From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Almost four years ago, I put comprised the best 15 players in the American Basketball Association (1967-1976) and decided unquestionably that Julius Erving was that league’s greatest performer.
Now, after exhaustive research, I have compiled the five greatest single-season teams in the league’s nine-year run that culminated with the merger of four clubs (Nets, Spurs, Nuggets and Pacers) into the NBA.
Here’s my top five in ascending order, keeping in mind that all five won titles:
5. 1971-72 Indiana Pacers (47-37) — The Pacers possessed excellent balance, with the top-six players all averaging double figures, but nobody over 20 points per game.
The team was fueled by center Mel Daniels (19 ppg, 16 rebounds pg), rookie George McGinnis (17 ppg, 9 rpg) and guard Roger Brown (18 ppg).The Pacers beat the New York Nets for their second title in three seasons.
4. 1970-71 Utah Stars (57-27) — Led by former NBA center Zelmo Beaty, the Stars enjoyed their first season in Salt Lake City with a title after losing in the finals the previous year based in Los Angeles. Utah defeated Indiana and Kentucky in a pair of seven-game series for the title.
3. 1968-69 Oakland Oaks (60-18) — The Oaks were coached by Alex Hannum, who guided the 76ers to an NBA crown in 1967, breaking the Celtics’ record eight straight titles. Rick Barry left the NBA’s San Francisco Warriors to spearhead the Oaks’ high-octane offense that averaged 126 ppg. Barry averaged 34 ppg before sustaining a season-ending injury. Oakland beat Indiana in a five-game final.
2. 1974-75 Kentucky Colonels (58-26) — Coach Hubie Brown loved his dynamic front court of playoff MVP Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel. Star defender Teddy McClain and 3-point specialist Louie Dampier rounded out a superb back court. The Colonels, who got a big break earlier in the playoffs when defending champ New York was upset by St. Louis, topped the Pacers in five games for the title.
1. 1969-70 Indiana Pacers (59-25) — Daniels and Brown were the driving forces for the Pacers, who won the East Division by a whopping 14 games before defeating the Bill Sharman-coached L.A. Stars in a six-game final. Brown was the playoff MVP and Daniels was in the midst of four straight All-ABA First Team selections.
Honorable Mention — 1967-68 Pittsburgh Pipers (54-24); 1971-72 Colonels (68-16); 1973-74 Nets (55-29); 1974-75 Denver Nuggets (65-19); 1974-75 Nets (58-26); 1975-76 Nets (55-29).
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com