Thursday, May 18, 2017

ABA Update (1971)

First off, here's how the American Basketball Association regular season went down ...

Eastern Division
Virginia Squires (ex-Oakland Oaks, ex-Washington Caps) 55-29
Kentucky Colonels 44-40
New York Nets (ex-New Jersey Americans) 40-44
The Floridians (ex-Miami Floridians) 37-47
Pittsburgh Condors (ex-Pittsburgh Pipers) 36-48
Carolina Cougars (ex-Houston Mavericks) 34-50

Western Division
Indiana Pacers 58-26
Utah Stars (ex-Anaheim Amigos, ex-Los Angeles Stars) 57-27
Memphis Pros (ex-New Orleans Buccaneers) 41-43
Texas Chaparrals (future San Antonio Spurs) 30-54
Denver Rockets 30-54

So, the playoffs started, and the Chaparrals beat the Rockets in a one-game playoff to eliminate the West's fifth entry. Then the Stars and Pacers swept the Chaparrals and Pros, respectively, and, in the east, the Squires and the Colonels beat the Nets and the Floridians, respectively, both by four games to two. Both division-final series were upsets: Stars over Pacers, 4-3, and Colonels over Squires, 4-2.

In the ABA finals, Utah won games 1 and 2 at home, and then Kentucky won games 3 and 4 at home. And then Utah won Game 5 at home, and then Kentucky won Game 6 at home. Game 7 is tonight, Tuesday, May 18, 1971, at Utah.

Spoiler alert ...


  1. This movie, We're No. 1, is right up there with any of the team-highlight films of any sport ever. Narrated by Bill Howard, "voice of the Utah Stars," takes us through the 1970-71, culminating with Utah's 131-121 Game 7 victory over the Kentucky Colonels. "Athletically, it was Utah's finest hour. It was really Game Number One Hundred Two in a rugged professional-basketball season that began back on June 10, 1970, when Owner Bill Daniels would become the Los Angeles Stars would become the Utah Stars. He also made a promise--he made a pledge--that Salt Lake City would become the Green Bay of professional basketball."

  2. I love the shots of the secretaries on the phones in the president/general manager's office.

  3. Here's the welcoming part at the Salt Lake International Airport after the Stars turned back the Indiana Pacers, four games to three, in the Western Division finals. The Pacers had finished ahead of the Stars in the regular season, so Indianapolis hosted Game 7. (Bill Howard had noted shrewdly in the early going of this movie that the teams had split their 12 regular-season head-to-head meetings.)

    The playoff series "was like the Battle of the Bulge, Wake Island and Guadalcanal all rolled into one," Howard says. "General George Patton would've loved it."

    Patton won Best Picture back on April 15, a fact that, of course, would not've been lost on the marketing writer who penned Bill Howard's script for We're No. 1. By the way, there's no way you could've gotten away with that line today--too frivolous and flip.

  4. I wondered why that great Utah Stars video didn't mention their coach. Turns out Bill Sharman in June 1971 is a leading candidate to become next coach of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. The Stars are reportedly suing Sharman for $5 million.