It's been 40 full years since the ABA played its final game, but Julius Erving believes its legacy still lives on in today's NBA.
Erving was involved in the ABA's final contest on May 13th, 1976. Dr. J's New York Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets in the 1976 Finals, the second championship of Erving's ABA career. About a month later, the ABA agreed to merge forces with the NBA. Four teams arrived in the NBA as a result—the Nets, Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs.
Outside of the fact that all four teams still exist within the NBA several decades later, Erving believes the ABA's influence has a strong presence in 2016:
“It's been a long evolution over the last 40 years,” the Hall of Famer told FOX Sports in a recent phone interview, “but the ABA still lives within the NBA, no question about it.”
While the three-time ABA MVP didn't go into exact detail about why the former league still lives within the NBA, one needs to simply look at the reliance on three-point shooting and slam dunks that have taken over the league. Perhaps more than ever, the three-point shot is taking the league by storm due to two-time MVP Stephen Curry.
For perspective, there was no three-point shot before the ABA came into existence. Furthermore, the ABA held the first-ever slam dunk contest in 1976, eight years before the NBA held its first such event.
Although it's been a couple of generations since the ABA last played a game, it's safe to say that the current NBA would be vastly different if both leagues had never merged together.