Twenty-seven years after the first league was organized in Philadelphia, a professional basketball league of truly national scope was formed. In 1926, the ABL was the first attempt to create a major professional basketball league. Joseph Carr, who was, in 1925, the president of the recently founded, three year old National Football League, organized the ABL from nine of the best independent pro teams from the East and the Midwest.
From the beginning, it was determined that the new circuit would be run as a strictly “major league” basis unlike any basketball league that had preceded it. They were convinced that they could make professional basketball a viable, profitable venture if it was run as a business with strict guidelines under a strong, well-managed league office. To accomplish this, the founders adopted criteria that would insure only serious investors would be granted franchises: Only cities of substantial population would be admitted; owners would be obligated to sign the best available players; a strong league office would closely monitor operations under a “commissioner” system similar to professional baseball; and the teams would play in first-class facilities.
The Original Celtics (founded in 1918 as a professional barnstorming team) was strongarmed into joining the American Basketball League in the inaugral season. They started by winning the title in 1926 and 1927 and dominate it so completely that they were forced to send players to other teams. This stragegy backfired by creating lowered attendance, and causing the ABL to fold under the weight of the Great Depression after the 1931 season.