LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dennis Murphy, a sports entrepreneur who co-founded skilled leagues in basketball, hockey, tennis and curler hockey that featured improvements in advertising and marketing, guidelines and enjoying fashion, died Thursday. He was 94.

Murphy died of congestive coronary heart failure at an assisted residing facility within the Orange County metropolis of Placentia, California, in keeping with his son, Dennis Jr.

The elder Murphy co-founded the American Basketball Association, World Hockey Association, World Team Tennis and Roller Hockey International.

Each of the leagues used groundbreaking advertising and marketing and promotional ways, new guidelines, and a mode of play that pressured the evolution of already established leagues.

“He just always had a vision for sports,” Dennis Jr. stated. “He was kind of like the underdog, so he always wanted to bring a new league in.”

The ABA started in 1967 and lasted till its merger with the National Basketball Association in 1976, resulting in 4 ABA groups becoming a member of the NBA and the introduction of the 3-point shot in 1979. Other ABA ideas pioneered by Murphy included the league’s red-white-and-blue basketball, a slam-dunk contest, and group cheerleaders.

“Dennis Murphy was a close friend of my father, Dr. Jerry Buss,” stated Jeanie Buss, co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. “Dennis always had new ideas he would brainstorm with my dad. He was a creative visionary and many of the innovations in the NBA — like the 3-point shot and slam dunk contest — came from the ABA.”

The WHA existed from 1972-79 and though it wasn’t the primary league to problem the National Hockey League’s dominance, it was simply probably the most profitable.

Nearly 70 gamers jumped from the NHL to the WHA in its first 12 months, led by Bobby Hull, who signed an unprecedented $1 million contract. Gordie (*94*) quickly adopted.

“The players really liked my dad a lot,” Dennis Jr. stated, citing their richer contracts. “I don’t know if the owners really liked him.”

The WHA additionally signed European gamers, paving the best way for a brand new period in North American hockey. Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier started their careers within the WHA. Murphy served as commissioner for 3 years.

He co-founded World Team Tennis in 1973 with Larry King, Fred Barman and Jordan Kaiser, and league play started in 1974 with 16 groups, a four-color tennis court docket, and groups made up of two males and two girls. It was the primary pro sports league through which women and men competed on equal phrases. It lasted till 1978, however was later resurrected and continues right this moment.

In 1988, Murphy got here up with the 12-team International Basketball Association which featured gamers 6-foot-4 and underneath.

Murphy’s final pro league was Roller Hockey International from 1992-99. He was impressed after seeing children enjoying curler hockey on concrete as a substitute of ice. King joined Murphy and Alex Bellehumeur in creating the league.

Murphy and King produced the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” made-for-TV tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, who was married to Larry King, at the Houston Astrodome

Born Sept. 4, 1926, in Shanghai, China, the place his father labored for Standard Oil, Murphy and his household moved to California in 1941.

Murphy served as an Army workers sergeant in World War II and as a captain within the Korean War. He majored in economics at the University of Southern California. He served one time period as mayor of Buena Park, California, within the late Nineteen Fifties earlier than changing into a advertising and marketing govt for a civil engineering agency.

Besides his son, he’s survived by daughters Dawn Mee and Doreen Haarlamert, 9 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. His spouse, Elaine, died in 1985.

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