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Jul 12, 2021

Pittsburgh’s dean of sportswriters Jim O’Brien (Looking Up: From the ABA to the NBA the WNBA to the NCAA - A Basketball Memoir; Looking Up Again - A Basketball Memoir) has seen it all in his more than 50 years of chronicling stories across the pro and collegiate sports landscape - but perhaps no more deeply than in basketball, and in more detailed fashion than during the old American Basketball Association.
Throughout the life of the league, you could find O’Brien’s reliable ABA reportage and musings seemingly everywhere: essential weekly columns in The Sporting News; meticulous pre-season team & player profiles in the annual Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball; and the hugely influential Street & Smith’s Basketball Yearbook (which he co-founded in 1970) - where he strove to ensure the challenger circuit's coverage was equal to that of the legacy NBA's.
We merely scratch the surface of O'Brien's treasure trove of stories from the old "red-white-and-blue" in this week's episode - where you'll hear personal reminiscences of legendary ABA figures like Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving, and (Episode 132 guest) Dan Issel; the significance of the former league's recent fiftieth anniversary; and why Pittsburgh was (both in the antecedent American Basketball League, and thrice-versioned in the ABA), and then wasn't a great pro hoops city.