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American Basketball Association comes to L.A., October 30, 1968

October 30, 2008 |  7:00 am


1968_1030_sharman By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

The American Basketball Assn., which gave the world three-pointers, slam dunk contests and Dr. J., came to Los Angeles for a brief stop. The team was called the L.A. Stars but its real star was on the bench.

Bill Sharman had been a standout player with USC and the Boston Celtics. He even played baseball for a while in the Brooklyn Dodgers' minor league system. He came back to L.A. as the Stars' coach after two seasons coaching the San Francisco Warriors.

"I made the move because I love Los Angeles," Sharman told The Times' Dan Hafner. "There is no other place I want to live and I've tried a number of different ones. I like the climate here and I like the people."

The Stars played in the Sports Arena but never drew much attention. The team was young and mostly unknown and attendance was bleak. Perhaps things would have been different with an ABA star like Julius Erving or David Thompson matched with a coach of Sharman's drive and experience. But the Stars would last only two seasons in L.A., having moved to Los Angeles after a season in Anaheim as the Amigos.

Hafner's story advancing the Stars' first home game included Sharman's view on what the league needed to survive: "Two things could make our league an instant success. One would be to land UCLA's Lew Alcindor. The other would be to get a national television contract. Our league needs exposure."

Sharman spent three seasons in the ABA, winning a title with the Stars after they moved to Utah. The next season, Sharman would be back in L.A. as coach of the Lakers.

Here's some ABA video found on YouTube that includes old game clips and interviews. See what L.A. for the most part missed.