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Influenced By NFL’s Merger with AFL, NBA’s Rival League’s Founder Made Millions

Advait Jajodia

Influenced By NFL's Merger with AFL, NBA's Rival League's Founder Made Millions

Andrew Petcash, a popular social media user, revealed the story of the man who got the NBA and the NHL to merge with the leagues founded by him and made a huge amount of money. Dennis Murphy was an American sports entrepreneur and by creating leagues such as the ABA and the WHA, he made a fortune.

Dennis Murphy was born in China and moved to California at a pretty young age. After coming out of the Korean War as a Captain, Murphy tried pursuing several goals, being a mayor and becoming a marketing executive for a civil engineering firm, before helping co-found sporting leagues such as the American Basketball League (ABA) and the World Hockey Association (WHA).

After closely watching the AFL-NFL merger, Murphy created these two leagues – ABA (1967) and WHA (1972) – and made sure that these were more entertaining than the NBA and the NHL, respectively. To attract more eyeballs, Murphy added cheerleaders, the three-point line, and a slam dunk contest, and even got young and entertaining players like Julius Erving in the ABA.

Murphy’s hockey league gained traction by increasing the duration of the players’ contracts and also signing numerous young talents.

With the ABA and the WHA gaining popularity, the NBA and the NHL were forced to merge with the two leagues. In 1971, the NBA and the ABA merged, and in 1979, the NHL and the WHA merged, resulting in Murphy earning millions within 20 years.

Dennis Murphy got several other individuals significant money due to the NBA-ABA merger

On August 5, 1976, the NBA merged with Dennis Murphy’s ABA. Four of the most successful ABA franchises -the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, the New York Nets, and the San Antonio Spurs – joined the NBA. However, the remaining three franchises were planned to be dismantled.

As per the agreed deal, these teams would be paid separately. The Virginia Squires went bankrupt even before the merger took place. However, the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis were rewarded handsomely.

Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The owner of the Colonels received a payout of $3.3 million. On the other hand, the St. Louis side’s owners negotiated a great deal for themselves – $2.2 million and 1/7 of a share of each of the four remaining ABA (now NBA) teams, as reported by

As reported by IndyStar, back in the 2022 offseason, the NBA also decided to pay $24.5 million to 115 former ABA players, who have been struggling to buy some of the most basic necessities. These 115 players, eligible for the payout, had spent at least three years in the ABA or the NBA and ABA and didn’t receive a pension from the National Basketball League. In the end, a lot of people benefitted from the merger including Dennis Murphy.

Post Edited By:Hitesh Nigam

About the author

Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia


Advait Jajodia, a seasoned NBA journalist, has had a passion for the game for over a decade. His journey from admiring Kobe Bryant's precision to being in awe of Stephen Curry's long-range mastery instilled a profound understanding of basketball. With a background as a two-time National-level player, Advait uses his experience on the hardwood to offer insightful analysis. Over three years of dedicated sports journalism has equipped the 21-year-old with a unique perspective, reflected in his prolific portfolio of 3,700+ articles.

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