MEMORIES OF RICK HASKINS: "I will always remember the first time I witnessed pro basketball in person. I was 13 and our junior high basketball coach took us to a Dallas Chaparrals ABA game at Memorial Auditorium in Dallas. It was very early in the league's first season in 1967. What an impact it instantly made on me and consequently on my future. The players made it so smooth, so easy. I was spellbound. And hooked. I managed to go to about 10 games the first year and about 10 games the second year of the ABA. By the third year, 1969-70, I had my driver's license. I went to easily over 25 games that year, probably about 20 games in 1970-71, and about 12 games in 1971-72. After that I moved away from Dallas.
The first-year (1967-68) Dallas team was led by Cliff Hagan (right), with his classic hook shot. The Chaparrals made it to the playoffs, finishing only 2 games behind the New Orleans Buccaneers and 1 game ahead of the Denver Rockets. It was a terrific division race that I followed every day and every game by listening to the amazing Terry Stembridge. Dallas fans were very lucky to have so incredible a radio announcer, someone who made every play come alive. I will always remember Terry's classic exclamation, swoosh, and meeting him at courtside after several games. He was always polite and gracious, smiling and saying hello, even at courtside after games (in the middle of all the duties a broadcaster has to complete after signing off the air). On a few occasions he gave me a program from a recent road trip. Terry, thanks a million for all the memories!
In the 1968 playoffs, Dallas breezed past the Houston Mavericks and then met the New Orleans Bucs. The Bucs were led by the dynamic Larry Brown and the hard-working Doug Moe, plus Jackie Moreland, Red Robbins, and James Jones. The winner of this series would go to the first ABA Finals! With the series tied one game each, a pivotal Game 3 was played at Moody Coliseum. I was there. Larry Brown drew a foul and then a technical in the last 30 seconds of the game. I clearly remember the atmosphere of the game and especially of that particular play. Brown was irate and beside himself for receiving that technical. But alas, Dallas could not pull the upset. The Bucs of course would eventually lose the ABA Finals in 7 great games against the Pittsburgh Pipers, who were led by the incredible Connie Hawkins (I had seen Hawkins earlier in the year in a scoring duel against my favorite Chap player, Cincy Powell (below right, #35)). Those are my best memories from the first year.
In the third year (1969-70), the Chaps were led by the incredible rookie guard tandem of Glen Combs (above left, #10) and Ron Boone (above middle, #12). Combs had a great move where he would drive to near the top of the key and fake the player guarding him into jumping. Then he would duck under the defender and step forward, just enough to get the shot off. It seemed he always made those shots, too. Boone was such a talent, always slashing and jumping high to make terrific shots. The Chaps met the underdog Los Angeles Stars in the first round of the 1970 playoffs and I went to two of the playoff games in Dallas. L.A.'s record was only 43-41 for the regular season, and everyone in Dallas assumed the Chaps would win the series easily. But the Stars were very confident and bragged that they would upset Dallas. The Stars were coached by the legendary Bill Sharman and were led by ABA stars Willie Wise, Mack Calvin, Bob Warren, Merv Jackson, and Crazy George Stone. The Stars also had the surprise player of the series, the unheralded center Craig Raymond. Raymond proved to be the difference. Actually, the Stars had an incredibly balanced team of players. In the absence of a real superstar, each Stars player knew his role as Sharman directed. The Stars went on in the playoffs to upset the heavily favored Denver Rockets (who had a 51-33 regular season record) 4 games to 1. Then they took the all-star laden Indiana Pacers to a sixth game before losing the Championship Series. Of course, the fallout from the Chaps playoff failure was a dismantling of their core of top players. This was a trend that continued the following year, after they were swept by the Utah Stars in the first round of the 1971 playoffs. The end result was that the Chaps were no longer among the best ABA teams.
Perhaps the greatest ABA memory I have is of the awesome Rick Barry (right). His ABA and career accomplishments are truly remarkable. Because of the two games I saw him play, he became my favorite player of all time. Those two games were between the Chaps and the Washington Capitols (with Rick Barry) in the third season (1969-70). In one incredible game, the final score was Washington 157 Dallas 155, and that was a game that ended in regulation! Barry scored a mere 47 points in that one. In the other game I went to between those teams, Dallas won 149-144 in overtime. During that game, an uproar erupted over something that I cannot exactly recall. Barry and either a player or one or more spectators got into a scuffle that spilled into the stands, with dozens of spectators jumping out to the floor. Play was temporarily stopped until order could be restored. Barry's quick temper and penchant for inciting crowds made for some of the wildest games ever in the ABA.
And I was there for the first ever ABA vs. NBA game: in 1971-72, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks came to Dallas for an exhibition game. That pre-season I also attended an exhibition game against the Chicago Bulls, and a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Condors (with the Houston Rockets also playing the Cincinnati Royals).
I made 2 scrapbooks of the first and third seasons, which I still own and highly covet. I also kept programs and newspaper clippings from many of the games I attended, most of which I still own today. I used to hang outside the locker rooms after dozens of games. I collected literally hundreds of player autographs, all on 3x5 cards. The experience of getting so many autographs remains one of my favorite ABA memories. Today, I maintain a large collection of ABA memorabilia, including many novelty items but also well over 100 different pocket schedules and ticket brochures from all the ABA teams. I went to the ABA Reunion several years ago in Indianapolis and had the tremendous joy of seeing and talking to several dozen former players and other ABA personalities. Every time I talk to anyone about the ABA (which I try to do any chance that arises), it brings back some of the best times of my life. Those were indeed some of the best times for all involved. Here's a big thanks to all who were part of the ABA!!"
MEMORIES OF GREG KERR: "My earliest memories of pro basketball are of the Dallas Chaparrals. I grew up in Dallas, and if there was ever a choice of basketballs to play with (brown vs red, white and blue), the ABA ball was always my overwhelming choice. The first game I attended was during the '69-'70 season -- Dallas and the Denver Rockets. Denver had their hot-shot rookie, Spencer Haywood. I also recall the '70 playoffs with the LA Stars. I remember talking my dad into following Cincy Powell out of the arena and down the highway before we finally gave up the chase. The game was played at Loos Fieldhouse that night. Another game that I recall (I believe it was the next season) was between the Chaps and the Memphis Pros at Moody Coliseum. Free tickets were given out and there were so many people at the game. My dad had to hang out in the lobby because there were no seats left inside the arena. My friend and I had to sit on a railing to watch the game. Of course now that wouldn't happen. But hey, those were the days of the ABA -- anything went as long as fans were there. I still have several untorn tickets from the Chaps' next-to-last home game vs the San Diego Conquistadors in 1973 (collector's items for me anyway.) I wanted to go to the final home game two nights later, but I had a 7th grade basketball game that night. Around that time ('72-'73) my dad bought me a leather ABA ball. I had that ball until a few years ago, when my dog chewed it and ruined it. I was hacked. I have found a team patch and sticker recently, but boy... I wish I still had that ball."
MEMORIES OF JOHN BASS: "I worked briefly for the Chaparrals around 1969 or 1970 as a gopher for the marketing director. I lived directly across from Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus. I was always around there trying to sneak in to play ball. That's how I got the job. My main memories of the Chaparrals are players like Glen Combs (a sharpshooter from Virginia Tech I think), Cincy Powell (a power forward), and Maurice"Toothpick" McHartley (a two guard who always played with a toothpick in his mouth). Also I remember one game where Ron Boone (a two guard out of Idaho State I believe) poured in 35 points on one incredible fallaway rainbow jumper after another. 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."
MEMORIES OF SCOTT FERGUSON: "The Chaps played in the very first ABA vs. NBA interleague game. It was in the 1971 exhibition season against the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks and Lew Alcindor. I remember that after hearing about the game, my friend and I walked to the front door of the Chaps' office (North Dallas) and got some of the first tickets issued. We sat just two rows behind the Bucks bench. Dallas played an unbelievable game only to lose by a few points (I believe that the Bucks scored in the last seconds to make it a three point margin ). What ever happened to Manny Leaks? He was the first person I had ever seen execute a double pump slam dunk (usually in the warm-ups to excite the crowd!) Great days!"
MEMORIES OF JIM URBANUS: "I was a senior in high school in the early 70's. My high school basketball team played a "preliminary" game at Memorial Auditorium in Dallas, before a Dallas Chaparrals vs. Indiana Pacers game. Part of the deal was that after our game we could stay for the Chaps game. As we walked off the court after our game, I came face-to-face with the biggest human being I had ever seen. He was wearing a Pacers uniform and looked young. I was not sure who he was, but he was smoking a cigarette. I remember mumbling something naive about how athletes should not smoke. Well, we settled in our seats after cleaning up. As the game started, it finally hit me. That young man dragging on a smoke right before the game was 19 year-old George McGinnis. He had left Indiana University early. McGinnis scored around 50 points in that game. He was AMAZING. My only thought afterwards was, "Maybe I should start smoking immediately!""
MEMORIES OF WAYNE COLODNY: "I recall listening to the very first game the Chaparrals played. It was an exhibition game and I recall little detail. Mostly I remember the feeling of listening to something new and mystical. The voice of the team on radio was Terry Stembridge. He was a major asset. He was very young but he was great. I was sad when the team moved to South Texas but, I rejoined them in 1979 when I moved to San Antonio and became a Spurs fan. In regard to where the Chaps played, they also played some games in a downtown arena; I think it was called Memorial Auditorium. And, they also played about 3-4 games (maybe more at the end of their tenure) at Loos Fieldhouse, a high school gym in Dallas that seated about 2500 people. I actually went to one of those. It was the rookie season of Jimmy Silas and he was shooting the lights out. The attendance was about a thousand."
MEMORIES OF DON BAKER: "I became a Dallas Chaparrals fan quite by accident in late 1969. The NBA's Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns played a game in my hometown of Albuquerque for my first pro basketball experience. A few nights later, I fired up the old Grundig radio in the basement of my father's home and began looking for the flagship station of the Phoenix Suns. What I accidentally found instead was a faint voice with a slight Texas accent describing the play-by-play of a pro basketball team called the Dallas Chaparrals. The broadcaster's name was Terry Stembridge and I've been a Chaps-Spurs radio fan ever since. 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 ..." In those early years the Chaps were always competitive, and Stembridge always made their games sound exciting (even during some blow-out performances). Although Dallas usually had some great players on their rosters -- Donnie Freeman, Ron Boone, Steve Jones -- they never managed much success in any playoff series. I finally saw my first Chaps game at the Auditorium Arena in Denver during the '71-'72 season (they were the Texas Chaps by that time). I was thrilled to finally see all the Chaps players. It was somewhat sad too that by this time, some earlier players like Gene Moore, Manny Leaks and Glen Combs had already moved on, and I couldn't see them play.
Terry Stembridge's broadcasts were delightful to listen to (I enjoyed them so much I taped many of them on a reel-to-reel recorder ). He generally never used the same expression twice, but always ended his games with this expression: " ... reminding you there will be another night " -- a comforting expression (I thought) to a then-fledgling ABA franchise. In 1978, I visited Terry Stembridge for the first time at the HemisFair Arena in San Antonio. He invited me into his office to (proudly) show me his collection of ABA game programs and media guides. Later that afternoon, he insisted I sit with him during his NBA broadcast that night. His hospitality that day was overwhelming to me. Sometime in the late 1970's, Terry Stembridge made his 1000th broadcast for the Chaps-Spurs franchise. The game was in Cleveland and at halftime Terry was kind enough to read a short letter on the air that I'd sent him the previous week. It was a letter that paid tribute to all the old ABA players from his previous broadcasts. I'll always hold fond memories of the Dallas-San Antonio ABA days, and particularly, Terry Stembridge."