You ask; I answer. Every week in this space, I’ll field three questions posed via email at [email protected]. Please include your first and last name, as well as the city you’re writing in from, and make sure “Corner Three” is in the subject line.
(Questions may be lightly edited or condensed for clarity.)
Q: I am a lifelong Nets fan. I’m 61 now and I clearly remember the team’s pre-N.B.A. years. Julius Erving was the greatest player to ever play for the Nets, and without him the franchise would not exist. But he sometimes seems to be forgotten in Brooklyn — and so is the A.B.A.
The Nets recently posted a tweet indicating that James Harden was only the second Net in team history to record a triple-double that included 40 points, along with Vince Carter, but I was sure that had to be incorrect. I looked it up online and found that Erving did this twice in the A.B.A.
My question: Does the N.B.A. count A.B.A. statistics? And if so, why don’t the Nets refer to them? Looking forward to your coverage soon of the first Nets championship in 45 years! — Dave Lederer (Sharon, Mass.)
Stein: Love the enthusiasm for the A.B.A., Dave. But A.B.A. statistics were not (and most likely will never be) officially combined with N.B.A. statistics, so the Nets refer to their history only since 1976-77 when they make such announcements about milestones.
This wonderful page maintained by Basketball Reference with multiple career scoring lists shows how Dr. J would be No. 8 and Dan Issel would be No. 11 if A.B.A. points were added to the damage they did in the N.B.A. Yet the list posted there is purely for discussion purposes, because the N.B.A. established its policy long ago, leaving Erving at No. 72 among N.B.A. scorers and Issel at No. 148. The four A.B.A. franchises that joined the league for the 1976-77 season (Denver, Indiana, San Antonio and the Nets) were treated more like expansion teams than merging teams.
The A.B.A., of course, was way ahead of its time with the early adoption of the 3-pointer and the introduction of a slam dunk contest eight years before the N.B.A., and faster-paced play in general that I sadly didn’t get to see for myself. The merger season was the first that I could call myself a truly aware N.B.A. fan; 1977 Topps basketball cards with the electric green backs still weaken me when I come across them as does the Buffalo Braves set from that season that I keep on my desk.