WESTWOOD, Calif. — Will Ferrell has skewered figure skating, mocked NASCAR and spoofed soccer dads in his blockbuster comedies. In "Semi-Pro,” the former "Saturday Night Live” star takes on perhaps the most comically fertile sports territory of his film career: the flamboyant American Basketball Association of the 1970s. He plays pop/soul singer Jackie Moon, who funnels profits from his single hit song, "Love Me Sexy,” into buying the fictional Flint, Mich., Tropics. He becomes the struggling last-place team's owner, coach, promoter and power forward. When the ABA commissioner (David Koechner) announces that the league will fold and only the top four teams will be absorbed into the National Basketball Association, Moon plots to change his hapless squad's fortunes. Ferrell, 40, has become the king of sports comedies, playing a deranged soccer dad in "Kicking and Screaming” and quirky professional athletes in the racing vehicle "Talladega Nights” and the skating flick "Blades of Glory.” "It's a great framework to kind of do comedy in. You can parody the sport; in this movie, you can parody the era. And at the same time, you have a built-in arc that's fun for the audience to watch this team of losers try to attain the lofty goal of fourth place,” he said in a recent news conference at the swank W Hotel. That was as serious as the answers got at the news conference, which also included Kent Alterman, the film's director; Will Arnett, who co-stars as the Tropics' razor-tongued team announcer; Andre Benjamin, who plays the team's hotshot; and Woody Harrelson, coming off his role in the bleak Oscar winner "No Country for Old Men” to play a former NBA benchwarmer brought in to help the team. With Ferrell as their ringleader, they never stopped cracking jokes as they fielded questions about topics such as the film's wild '70s fashions. "They were pretty outrageous. You know, you don't get a chance to kind of walk around in those clothes every day. Film is your chance to go back to that time,” said Benjamin, the boisterous group's straight man. "The '70s style, it is what it is ... a lot of the stuff wouldn't work right now.” The musician-turned-actor said he didn't keep his character's trademark burgundy trench coat because "the material was hideous. It was in good shape, though.” Ferrell, who previously parodied the '70s in the quotable comedy "Anchorman,” said he felt at home in the costumes. "Looking at a lot of the reference photos of the (ABA) league and the period, you know, it obviously looks funny, but it's not that far from the truth. ... I love the fact that it really is kind of historically accurate and humorous-looking all at the same time,” he said before launching into a gag about how he might adopt one aspect of the style. "I might start wearing neckerchiefs now in my personal life. I think that's a nice piece of accoutrement,” the straight-faced Ferrell said. "It's beautiful, man,” Arnett said. "And it covers the neck,” Harrelson added. "It does,” Ferrell said. "So, if you have any unsightly blemishes or a weird Adam's apple.” But he wasn't a fan of the short shorts favored by '70s hoopsters, which created some concerns on set. "I think Andre and I had the shortest shorts, which a lot of our fellow teammates refused to wear,” Ferrell said. "And they kept pulling them down,” Benjamin said. "Actually we had to do two weeks of basketball training, so I went ahead and got it over with, so I wore my shorts during the two weeks of practice ...” "That's how dedicated Andre was,” Ferrell said. ".So I wouldn't be self-conscious the day of shooting. ... (My character) Clarence didn't care about the shorts, so you know, why should I?” Benjamin finished. "I did have to wear a special pair of underwear, because when I went into a defensive stance, there was a potential for things to happen,” Ferrell said. "And sometimes it did. Yeah, not pretty,” Alterman said. For his directorial debut, Alterman had the unenviable task of riding herd on the merry comedians. "We did have a lot of fun, but we were also doing a production, so there were times where we had to find that delicate balance point between having too much fun and getting irresponsible. But I think we did it pretty well,” he said. "You've got 10 guys on a basketball court and about 1,800 extras, and every time he yelled cut, we'd want to just start shooting the ball around and running around and doing bits at the scoring table. So, yeah, it was tough,” Ferrell said. Despite their hyperactive tendencies, Alterman said the actors were consummate professionals, able to find humor even when they weren't on their A game. "It's safe to say that when you show up some days and you don't feel great, and you're surrounded by the other guys who are kind of having a good time, you usually end up feeding off it and you have a good time,” Arnett said. "That's what happened to me today,” Harrelson said. Travel and accommodations provided by New Line Cinema.