What the ABA needs now is a decent TV network contract. And what the league must have to get that is a few more Dr. Js. For example: When Julius Erving and his Nets played an exhibition in the Landover, Md. home of the Washington Bullets, 19,035 fans came; when the Detroit Pistons sold tickets for an exhibition against the Nets, people stood in line for an hour and a half to buy them. TV networks like that kind of drawing power. They just want more of it.
Or at least that's what the Atlanta people told New Orleans when they traded away Pete Maravich, who will draw a lot of fans, for a bundle of future draft picks, who will win lots and lots of games for the Hawks. A while after they'd pulled that job off, one of the Atlanta brass read in the papers where Zelmo Beaty had left Utah, signed with Golden State and been promptly traded to Los Angeles.
"Hey," said the Atlantan, "didn't we have some sort of deal with Golden State about what would happen if Beaty ever came back from the ABA?" "Right on," said Atlanta President John Wilcox, reading the fine print in a 1970 contract. "I think I will telephone San Francisco and give them the news."
What had happened was that back in 1970 Beaty was with Atlanta but unhappy and ready to jump to the ABA. Against the possibility that he might decide not to jump, the (then) San Francisco Warriors gave Atlanta a draft pick for the NBA rights to Beaty—and also agreed to send Forward-Center Clyde Lee to the Hawks should Beaty ever sign with them. Beaty jumped, played four years in the ABA and decided he had had enough of Utah. Besides, the Lakers wanted him. First, though, he had to sign a Warrior contract. Just a technicality before being sent on to Los Angeles. And by this time everybody had forgotten about Clyde Lee.
Everybody but the supercool folks from Atlanta. Which is why, in addition to the rest of their off-season winnings, they also won Clyde Lee. As for Lee, his first thought on the matter was that he would now like to renegotiate his contract. It might just turn out to be one of those seasons.