When the ABA was formed in 1967, they distinguished themselves from their elder rival by branding themselves as the freewheeling and funky alternative to the NBA. Not only did they bounce around a red, white, and blue ball and introduce slam-dunk contests and the three-pointer, but they also ushered cheer/dance squads into the fold.
Credit for the stroke of genius idea to keep fans’ hearts racing during breaks in action, belongs to the Indiana Pacers. The Pacemates squad, known as the Marathon Scoreboard Girls and the Paul Harris Pacerettes in earlier incarnations, first just strutted down the court performing fashion shows during timeouts and halftime. Their trendsetting floor play evolved through the ‘70s paving the way for modern day dance/cheer squads. The Pacemates were also the first squad to perform at an NBA All-Star game.
Three years after the ABA-NBA merger, Dr. Jerry Buss gave us the Laker Girls, taking dance team choreography to heights previously unseen. Troupes today incorporate elements of everything from ballet to bump’n’grind and hip-hop to hula dancing.
The old school Celtics were the last holdout to jump on the dance team bandwagon. Boston finally got down with the skintight program in November of 2006. With the playoffs tipping off in mid-April and the Association slimmed down to its strongest contenders, we felt it’d only be fair to give the Dance Teams equal due.