HomeBasketball TodaySpencer Haywood Spills the Tea on ABA, SuperSonics, and Beyond!

Spencer Haywood Spills the Tea on ABA, SuperSonics, and Beyond!


Spencer Haywood shares his thoughts on NBA past and present.

Former NBA champion Spencer Haywood attended the 2024 NBA All-Star festivities in Indianapolis and had plenty to say about his time in the league and where it’s at today. Haywood played 12 seasons in the league for the Seattle SuperSonics, New York Knicks, Washington Bullets, and New Orleans Jazz, and captured his NBA title in 1980 with the Los Angeles Lakers to kick off the Showtime Era. Before all that though, he played one season in the ABA with the Denver Rockets. That was the league that influenced how the game is played today.

The ABA jump-started the NBA, per Spencer Haywood

When asked what the biggest difference between the leagues was, Haywood said, “The style of game and play, we had a running and gunning style. Played defense. All the things you see in the NBA today, that was manufactured in the ABA.”

Haywood isn’t bluffing either. Everything we see from the NBA All-Star weekend does stem from what the ABA did. From the dunk contest to the three-point shooting contest, the NBA adopted it as its own when the two leagues merged together in 1976.

“When the merger took place and everything changed, what did they take from the ABA? They took everything for All-Star weekend. The three-point shooting, everything. The ABA man, the foundation,” Haywood continued.

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Bring back the SuperSonics as soon as possible

Seattle Supersonics center Spencer Haywood (24) in action against the Atlanta Hawks at the Omni.
Many Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

One of the stops in Haywood’s career was with the Seattle SuperSonics. He played there for five seasons and averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds there. As impressive as he was, there is nowhere to retire his jersey since the team no longer exists. Of course, the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were formerly known as the Sonics, relocated the team and the Sonic’s legends refuse to get their jersey hung in those rafters.

“Mines in storage. Many of them are in storage,” Haywood says.

Fortunately, there’s been rumblings of a SuperSonics return coming soon and Haywood is excited for their return.

“It means an awful lot. It’s fantastic.” he said when talking about their return.

The difference in the game today compared to back then

Spencer Haywood also went into detail about how different the league is now. Haywood’s last year in the NBA was in 1983, so a lot has changed. More specifically, the influx of international players in the league like Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Well, you’re talking about the European, African, and Greek players. What I see from them is a quality of basketball that we are missing in America. Our young people are trained on the weekend and in an AAU game. They play five or six games on the weekend which means they don’t practice. In Europe, they play one game on the weekend and they practice for five days out the week. They have more skill and better fundamentals.”

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International players used to be a rarity, but that isn’t the case anymore. Those foreign-born players are coming in more adept and are able to grasp the game at earlier stages in life which translates well when they get to their pro leagues in Europe and eventually to the NBA if they choose to come stateside.


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