Nuggets run to the NBA Finals stirs up memories of wonderful wackiness in the ABA

May 30, 2023  -DENVER (AP) — Gone, but never forgotten, the ABA is enjoying a curtain call this season — all thanks to the Denver Nuggets.

Nearly 50 years after the breakup of the old, renegade league, with its red-white-and-blue basketballs and the 3-point arc that has redefined the modern game, the Nuggets finally broke through to become the last of the four ABA teams — Spurs, Pacers, Nets and Nuggets — who survived the 1976 merger to make the NBA Finals. Denver hosts Miami in Game 1 on Thursday.

One of the nicest compliments those old ABA Nuggets can pay to today’s group: These Nuggets remind them of them.

“The new NBA is like the old ABA,” David Thompson, ‘The Skywalker,’ told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. “This Nuggets team, we’re pulling for them. I want them to finish the job that we didn’t quite get done.”

Thompson’s career with the Nuggets straddled their ABA and NBA days. He is such a fan of the modern-day Nuggets that a signed Nikola Jokic jersey is a coveted keepsake in his trophy room, which includes one of those multicolored basketballs, signature shoes with “DT” on them, along with some memorabilia of Thompson’s national title run with North Carolina State in 1974.

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