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The One Season ABA Team: New Jersey Americans

The New Jersey Americans

Credit: Remember the ABA

The New Jersey Americans were one of the eleven teams that were a part of the ABA's first season. The team was owned by Arthur Brown. Before owning the Americans, Brown organized various AAU teams and semi-professional basketball teams in New York City. As a result, the original organizers of the ABA thought that Brown was the perfect choice for the eventual New York-based ABA team.

Brown had already named the new ABA team the 'New York Americans' and was set to play at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. However, the already existing and more famous New York-based basketball team, the New York Knicks, pressurized the Armory to back out from their deal with Brown and the New York Americans.

This was three months before the New York Americans' season opener.

As a result, Brown had to find another stadium to play at... fast. Unfortunately, Brown couldn't find a venue in New York that would host the New York Americans. Some stadiums were already completely booked. Others were scared of ruining their relationship with or angering the New York Knicks, so they didn't rent their venues to the Americans.

In the end, Brown chose a venue in New Jersey, the Teaneck Armory. Since the venue was in New Jersey, Brown also changed the team's name to the New Jersey Americans.

Now let's get into the New Jersey Americans' one season in the ABA.


1967-68: Forget the Playoffs

In the 1967-68 ABA season, the New Jersey Americans went 36-42 (46.2 W/L%) and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The team was above average on offense, ranking fourth in offensive rating (102.2). On the other hand, they were pretty horrible on defense, having the third-worst defensive rating (103.7).

In the 1967 ABA Draft, the Americans chose nine players, but none would play for the team. Out of the 17 players on the team, 13 of them were either former NBA players or drafted by an NBA team. The other four players (Al Beard, Barry Liebowitz, Johnny Mathis, and Walter Simon) were either out of college or probably from other professional basketball leagues.

The New Jersey Americans were coached by 4x All-NBA First Team and 1x All-Star Max Zaslofsky. He played in the NBA for ten seasons and played another two seasons in the Continental Basketball Association. While in the NBA, he played for the:

  • Chicago Stags: 1946-50

  • New York Knicks: 1950-53

  • Baltimore Bullets: 1953

  • Milwaukee Hawks: 1953

  • Fort Wayne Pistons: 1953-56

Zaslofsky also broke a couple of records while he played in the NBA. He was the youngest player to be selected to the All-NBA First Team (until LeBron in 2005-06) and the youngest player to lead in scoring (until Kevin Durant in 2010).

Zalofsky would have been perfect for the New Jersey Americans since the team never had a good shooting guard play the entire regular season. Their best shooting guard was Levern Tart, but he only played 37 games with the Americans.