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DAWN OF THE AGE OF
RED-WHITE-AND-BLUE BALL GAME
After the American Basketball Association and George Mikan came to a parting of the ways last July—Mikan resigned as commissioner, reportedly at the urging of ABA owners who were disappointed in how little had been achieved under his leadership—the league hired Jack Dolph, whose main qualification for the job was his 10 years at CBS as director of sports under Bill MacPhail. Dolph took over on Oct. 29 and in less than two months scored a signal triumph for the struggling ABA: he got the league on national TV. CBS, Dolph's alma mater, has agreed to televise the ABA's All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 24.
That's all for the moment, and it doesn't seem like much, but Dolph says, "Our arrangement is a good deal more than a trial situation CBS has committed some money and air time beyond the All-Star Game." Apparently, if the All-Star Game telecast is a success, CBS will do some ABA playoff games and possibly do a game of the week next season.
The money involved is relatively minor, with guesses ranging from an average of $5,000 to $15,000 a team, but the ABA owners don't seem to mind.
"One dollar would have made me happy," said Mike Storen, general manager of the Indiana Pacers. "It's a big breakthrough for us in terms of national recognition and acceptance. The contract is a great prestige item." Buddy Jeannette of the Pittsburgh Pipers added, "It gives us an aura of stability."
Maurice Stern of the New Orleans Buccaneers argued, "This will have a psychological effect on our fans. They realize that when you get on TV it means somebody has enough faith in the league to sponsor it. This could help us get local TV and radio coverage of our out-of-town games."
Charlie Mastin of the Kentucky Colonels summed up the ABA's optimism. "I've always felt our game was more exciting than the NBA's," he said. "Now we can let the whole nation see our game, our red-white-and-blue ball and our three-point play."