It's the offseason, and us Spurs fans don't have much to talk about. Wild speculation about would-be sign-ups and trades has kept us sane, and rooting against the Lakers has kept us entertained, but that's honestly not enough for me. I find myself drifting to other sports, other hobbies. It's a time to gather our strength for a new season of heartbreak and hope, and the relative sopor here at Pounding the Rock reflects that.
Now, I'm a bandwagon fan, I admit it. I only started really rooting for the Spurs when Manu was called from Italy, and just because my favorite player of all time was part of the team. As time passed and I watched them play, learnt their history and got to know Pop, Timmy, the organization as a whole, I became a fan of the team and as I've said before, I'm here to stay. However, true fans are formed by their experiences supporting their team throughout their life, good and bad ones, and I'm sure those championships I enjoyed were that much better for them because of that.
I decided to use this offseason to learn a bit more about my team of choice, and since I was reading about it I thought I might write some posts for the blog. In fact, I'm hoping that old-timers like ATS and SiMA get in the mood and tell us more about the good ol' days, when the beer was tastier, the women were prettier, and the Spurs were... suckier.
Once more unto the breach!
Here There Be Dinosaurs (The Prehistory)
Their first year as a team was promising. The Chaps' stars were Cliff Hagan, the player-coach, forward Cincinnatus "Cincy" Powell, center John Beasley, and guard Bob Verga (high-five to the Argentines reading this!). They played in State Fair Coliseum, now apparently a hockey stadium, and jumped to the second place in the Western division with a 46-32 record. They finished two games ahead of Denver and two games behind the New Orleans, who back then were called "Buccaneers" - by my estimation about 10 times manlier than "Hornets".
State Fair Coliseum - no banners in the rafters, in true Dallas fashion
Oh Boy Cuban Could've Been Our Owner
Home court advantage?
Lubbock Municipal Coliseum - Imposing
The bird logo (68-70), the bird on Texas logo (70-73) and Birdy the mascot (your nightmares)
The Fans Reminisce
Don Baker shares: "In one of the first Chaps games I listened to, there was a unique play involving Dallas guard Glen Combs. Stembridge was describing the action of Combs slowly dribbling up the court for an offensive sequence when the ABA ball simply deflated. It just went flat like an old tire. Of course play was stopped as the refs dug another basketball out of the bag. I vividly remember thinking that night, 'Wow... what a contrast between the two pro basketball leagues...'"
John Bass remembers: "The Chaparrals also had a gimmick where they had a live 'up to the second' scoreboard at one end of the court (picture below). It took two women to operate the thing. It was kind of neat to see all the points and fouls of each player during the game, the board was about 10 or 12 feet tall and about 20 feet long."
...Wait? No +/- stat? Barbarians!
And Then, Hope
In 1972, the NBA Houston Rockets waived guard James Silas. Silas was quickly signed by the Chaparrals, and he played for them for a whole year. However, the Chaps were done. They played their last game on March 26, 1973, going out in style by beating the Carolina Cougars, the ABA's best team that year, 112-110. 134 fans cheered from the stands.
You can all imagine what happened next. The team was bought by daring men from another town in Texas, and Silas stayed and played for the newly christened San Antonio Spurs for eight more years. It'd be the first hint of many great things to come.