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NBA at 75: Ambitious AP series explores social impact and the league

Basketball Hall of Fame players, from left, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving and Bill Russell stand on the court together during the first half of the NBA All-Star Game in New York, Feb. 15, 2015. (AP Photo / Kathy Willens, File)

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Philadelphia 76ers center Julius Erving (6) scores against Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 5 the of NBA Championships in Los Angeles, Calif., May 14, 1980. – AP Photo

Associated Press staffers produced an in-depth monthly package for the NBA’s 75th season, taking a unique decade-by-decade look at the league’s role in social issues — without ignoring the memorable moments on the court. While other news organizations centered their coverage on the celebration of the milestone anniversary, AP’s all-formats series explored the impact of issues ranging from segregation at the league’s inception to COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter in recent years.

AP’s NBA beat writers and their colleagues in Sports used relationships developed over the years to secure buy-in and exclusive interviews with key figures, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Dominque Wilkens, Spencer Haywood and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Each month’s package throughout the season featured a main story,an all-decade team,a timeline,AP Was There stories,photos,video and audio, all deftly displayed and regularly updated on an engaging hub.

Among the primary contributors to the stories,photos and video were writers and editors Tim Reynolds,Brian Mahoney,Kyle Hightower,Eddie Pells,Howard Fendrich,Paul Newberry,Teresa Walker and Cliff Brunt,as well as top stories photo editor Alyssa Goodman,deputy digital director Darrell Allen,social media producer Ragan Clark, South regional deputy news director Alex Sanz and video journalist Cody Jackson.

The stories were used throughout the NBA season by media outlets crediting AP. The unique content was so valued and well-received that a version of the excusive work is being published as a “bookazine” by Hearst.

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