MEMORIES OF WILLIAM P. CLARK: "In grade school, my best friend and I were real gym rats. We were the starting guards on our grade school basketball team. After one practice, my friend's dad and my dad ran into each other. My friend's dad mentioned that he had a couple of extra tickets to a Dallas Chaps game. He wanted to know if we would be interested in going. I remember my dad begrudgingly said OK, even though the game was on a school night.
My dad had been a high school all-state basketball player in Ohio. He thought the ABA was "bush league," just like he felt about the AFL. Before we went to the game, he said that the only reason my friend's dad liked going to these games was because he was a SMU basketball fan, and the Chaps happened to have a couple of ex-SMU players. He also said the Chaps' uniforms stole the SMU look, and that SMU would probably beat the Chaps on most nights. Before I was born my dad had spent about five years working in St. Louis in the early to mid-1950's when the Hawks had some great teams. Cliff Hagan had been one of his favorite players. But dad felt his career was over years ago, and he had no business playing for the Chaps.
These were the perceptions we had before the game. The night in question was early in the first season with the Indiana Pacers as the opponent . We instantly became fans of the Chaps and the ABA. The game was a typical ABA game - run and gun all night. Cliff Hagan had a monster night which gave the league instant credibility to my dad. The thing I remember the most about that night is what I missed. The game was tied with 2 seconds remaining when John Beasley hit one of his patented jump shots from the corner. The Pacers had no time outs remaining and I remember them standing dejectedly on the court with hands on their hips. The several thousand people in Memorial Aud were going wild. Because it was a school night, my dad said "lets grab our stuff and go, because that's the game." The last thing I remember seeing was the ball being inbounded to a Pacer who appeared to just heave the the ball into the air. I turned to grab my coat from the seat in back of me and heard this gasp and then stunned silence from the crowd. I then turned to look at the floor, where everyone seemed to be in a very confused state. All we could tell was the Pacers were happy and the Chaps were not . We had to walk down several rows to get to other fans and ask what exactly had happened. To our amazement they said that the Pacers had made a full-court shot, a 3-point shot to win the game. So I ended up missing what, at that time, was the longest shot in basketball history. However, from that point on we were hooked. We attended numerous games mostly in the first four years of the team.
I have other game memories from the first year. I remember going to a Sunday "matinee" at Memorial Aud against the Minnesota Muskies. Cliff Hagan was one of the toughest competitors I have ever witnessed and on this day he was trying to give himself a breather because it was late in the regular season. Les Hunter was a tough forward for the Muskies. He was having his way with John Beasley, shoving him all over the place. Hagan had had enough, and checked himself into the game. Within a minute, one of the most intense basketball brawls I have seen erupted. It took several minutes to restore peace. When the dust settled, a bloody Hunter and Hagan were ejected. Speaking of brawls, we hated Rick Barry. But he did draw big crowds. On one night, Ron Boone was simply out-muscling Barry. Out of frustration, Barry took a wild swing at Boone right under the basket below us. Big mistake. Boone proceeded to beat the tar out Barry until several players were able to peel Boone away.
One other Chaps game sticks in my mind. We attended the first ever ABA-NBA exhibition game. It was the Chaps vs. the defending NBA champs, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Bob Dandridge, etc., all of whom played significant minutes. The Chap barely lost. The game was actually a doubleheader - the second game featured the Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns. I remember thinking how drab things looked in these games with the brown ball, no three-point shot, and the Bucks' "plain Jane" uniforms.
I remember seeing Connie Hawkins play in front of maybe a few hundred people one night in Memorial Aud. For that one season, 1967-68, he was the greatest player I ever saw except for Wilt and Jordan. Later, I saw Dr J as a young Virginia Squire, and he was close to Hawkins.
Some other things come to mind with the Chaps. They had this giant scorecard they placed at floor level behind one of the baskets (remember, this is before the time of jumbotrons). It was at least 10 feet high, and kept running statistics for all players on both teams. To do this, they employed attractive girls in mini-skirts and high-heeled boots (all in Chaps colors of course). It was a three-girl operation, two girls on a ladder (one per team), plus another girl on the ground to hand up numbers.This enabled you to see each player's stats on a real-time basis. Then there was Miss Inez on the organ. The little kids loved her more than the game itself, as she was always surrounded by them. She liked to do a couple of creative things. She produced a "beep-beep" sound - like a roadrunner - whenever the Chaps hit a three pointer. And whenever they won a home game, she would always break into a spirited rendition of "You're from Big D."
In the Chaps' final three seasons, I attended only a handful of games - primarily to see Dr. J or Artis Gilmore. In the final season, 1972-73, I so remember seeing a doubleheader, including a Denver vs. San Diego game. Denver wore their lavender uniforms and San Diego wore their gold uniforms. Wow, talk about a lot of weird 1970's color.
My final thoughts on the Chaps. We supported them whole-heartedly for about the first three years. But after that it became difficult due to the ownership's short-sightedness in investing in the team. Initially, they had put together a good core group of players. They were one or two star players from being a very good basketball team. They had opportunities to sign some NBA players, but choose not to. In fact, they went the other direction. They let the Cincy Powells,Glen Combs and Ron Boones leave the team. Although they brought in some interesting young players, it was clear that ownership had given up on the venture. If ownership had put a good team in place, I firmly believe they would have been as successful at the gate as any team in the ABA, and would be playing today as Dallas' NBA entry. I never took to the NBA like I did the ABA. I loved the three-point shot, the red,white and blue ball, the overall "run the floor" style of the league. Today my wife and I are season ticket holders of the Dallas Stars. We casually follow the NBA and the Mavericks, but that doesn't change the fact that the ABA created my fondest sports memories."
MEMORIES OF BARRY M. GROSSMAN: "During my junior and senior years of high school in Dallas (1969-1970 and 1970-1971), I was one of three young men who worked the players benches for the Chaparrals. I still have my Chaparrals warm-up jacket with my name on the back. Unfortunately, the official ABA basketball I was given when I left Dallas to join the Air Force has long since found its way to a landfill somewhere.
The players, for the most part, were warm and genuine. They didn't have the superstar attitude that seems to exist more and more among players today. I guess it was simply a different time.
I remember spending an afternoon at Donnie Freeman's apartment and having long, genuine conversations with Joe Hamilton. We played horse before games with several Chaps players. One of my favorite horse opponents was center Rich Niemann. He was one of the tallest players in the league at the time. He would stand at center court with his back to the basket and toss the ball over his head and through the hoop. Needless to say, he usually won.
I remember hauling basketballs and other equipment to Ft. Worth during the season the Chaps became the Texas Chaps, and played games on three different home courts. And, I remember one pre-season camp when I was quickly dispatched to Love Field in Dallas. I had pick up an order of basketballs right away, so the team could practice.
I joined the team when Max Williams was coach and remained through the year Tom Nissalke was coach. I was saddened when the team moved to San Antonio, but happy the team was one of the few that entered the NBA. The ABA was ahead of its time in many respects. I think it would fare much better now."
MEMORIES OF JAN ROBISON: "I was the woman whose name appeared in the Dallas Morning News and the Times Herald after one of the games against Kentucky. I do not remember the exact date and would love to find the newspaper articles. The Times Herald said that "an irate young woman" attacked the referee while the Dallas Morning News said that "a very attractive young woman" interrupted the game ----- so I've always said that is why I took the DMN. Cincy Powell was on the Kentucky team and years later I ran into him at a Steak 'N Ale restaurant where I think he was the manager or something.
After the Chaps were sold and moved down to San Antonio, we would sometimes drive down there to watch them. Once we were so pumped after the game that we just got in the car and drove all the way back to Dallas. My husband and I have been long time fans and are now so proud of the Dallas Mavericks. Not only did they play hard in the 2011 playoffs, and play as a team, but they also stayed humble. What a winning combination. Go Mavs!"
MEMORIES OF CHRIS CREE: "I used to bike or drive to Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus or Memorial Auditorium downtown (the former much more often) to watch my beloved Chaps. Glen Combs, Charlie Beasley, John Beasley, Steve Jones, Donnie Freeman, Cincy Powell, Ron Boone, Rich Jones, Riney Lochman, Cliff Hagen, etc. Radio Announcer - Terry Stembridge. PA Announcer - Bill Melton.
I have a number of great memories. Here are a few:
1) 1971-1972 - The Chaps were doing well. They had a Friday night home game with the Kentucky Colonels, followed by a Saturday night game with the Indiana Pacers. Moody held about 9,100. There were 8,000+ at the game against Kentucky. The Chaps prevailed against Artis Gilmore, Louis Dampier, and the rest of that great team. The next night, there were over 10,000 people jammed into tiny Moody Coliseum. People were laying courtside all the way to the edge of the inbounds line. The Pacers prevailed handily, and the city's budding love affair with the team was just a two-night-stand. I always wanted to see continued attendance and acceptance to that level, and it just never came. I feel that if the Chaps had won that Saturday night game, the Spurs might still be called the Chaparrals and the Dallas Mavericks would be in some other city (why not Louisville?).
2)1971 - The first ever ABA-NBA exhibition meeting with the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (nee Lew Alcindor) led Milwaukee Bucks at Moody Coliseum. My cousin, Roe Cree, played in a band called Rose Colored Glass that had a Top 40 song - "I Can't Find The Time To Tell You." They performed at halftime. The Chaps stayed close the entire game and lost by 2 when Steve Jones missed a 10 foot right-of-the-basket baseline jumper that would have tied the game at the buzzer. The Chicago Bulls then came to town a few nights later. They played tenacious defense. They didn't shoot a 3 point shot.They killed the Chaps by something like 125-101. I remember that near the end of the game, one of the Bulls yelled to a teammate, "Try a three-point shot!" He then laughed and chortled. I felt as if my league was being insulted. But, these games led to the two ABA-NBA All Star Games and ultimately, the merger. I am proud that the Chaps were a major contributor to that eventuality.
3) In 1973, my senior year in high school, my friend Steve Parrimore (who went on to the Naval Academy) had 4 tickets to that night's game against the Kentucky Colonels. His family couldn't use the tickets. It was a Tuesday night. I was not allowed to go out on a school night. But, I took the tickets and later in the day asked some other students in my Calculus class if they wanted to go. A girl named Sheri Hornquist said that she would go with me. So, I lied to my parent's and told them that I was going to Sheri's to study for a test the next day. I also promised that I would be home by 10. We went downtown to Memorial Auditorium. I sold the extra 2 $5.00 tickets for $3 each. We bought hot dogs, Cokes and 2 game programs with my bounty.
I had never purchased a program before. They all had "lucky numbers" in them. If your lucky number was called, you got to go on the court and take a 3-point shot. Make it, and you won 2 tickets to each of the next "increasing with each miss" x number of games, plus a $50 gift certificate to Jas. K. Wilson clothing stores. My lucky number was called! I then went to the floor and actually made the shot! Bill Melton congratulated this "long time Dallas Chaparrals fan." I guess that he had come to recognize my face over the years amongst the sparse crowds.
Just then, I heard from the rafters, "Hey Cree!" Six of my schoolmates were there. One of the guys, David Gomez, knew that I could play basketball. He had bet another schoolmate a Coke that I would make the shot. He won. Another surprise - the Chaps buzzer guy was none other than the truant officer of my school - Mickey Poteet. I was a star. I knew that our principal, Tom Kelly, was a former All-City player in Dallas. With all these connections, I knew that the next day at school, my celebrity would be ensured.
After the game (I don't even remember the result), I dropped Sheri off and raced home by 10:00 PM. I knocked on my parent's bedroom door to tell them that I was home. It was the night of my life and I pulled it off.
My Father said, "How did it go?" I said, "OK", and started to go off to my room. Inexplicably, I stopped, turned around and told them the entire story as I have just told you. My Father said, "Well, that's an interesting story. Your brother, Rick, just called from Kentucky. He was watching the game on television and could have sworn that he saw you in the background during a halftime interview. I told him that you told us that you were out studying. I guess you weren't."
"What did you win?"
"I won a $50 gift certificate to Jas. K. Wilson and 2 tickets to the next 10 games."
"It's a good thing that you told the truth. Your punishment is to give the prizes to charity."
The next day, I was, indeed, a star at school. Everyone came up and congratulated me. The principal made a big deal over it. That afternoon, I drove to the Salvation Army and gave them my certificate. Then I drove downtown, parked, and gave away each and every ticket to obviously less fortunate people on the street."
MEMORIES OF BRUCE HOPKINS: "Although fewer than 200 people were at the Texas Chaps game in Fort Worth on January 5, 1971, my dad and I were among them, since game tickets were a Christmas present that I'd received the previous week. I'd never been to a pro basketball game before. As I remember, the Condors, powered by John Brisker, beat Dallas in a game in which both teams scored over 140 points. A junior high student, I'd played lots of football, some baseball, a little basketball, and was from a tennis-playing family. But, with this game, I was hooked on basketball.
I loved the Chaps. I kept a scorebook at home while listening to Terry Stembridge for almost every game. I got to shoot the 3-point shot at halftime at Moody Coliseum once. My dad took me to the Bucks vs. Chaps preseason game, the first ABA vs. NBA game ever played. We were there to see Rick Barry's sort-of-underhanded foul shooting perfection, as well as the New Year's Eve doubleheader at Moody Coliseum and countless other games.
Because of that game and the Chaps, I fell in love with basketball. I played on the Paschal High School state finalist team in '75, my own three sons collectively earned 8 high school basketball letters, and we have adopted extended family members from the youth basketball coaching that I've done as an adult. Oddly for a Chaps fan, I was a defensive specialist as a player, and, in my own coaching, I've always stressed defense first. Maybe because the Chaps usually lost in high-scoring games…
Now-ESPN radio and TV sports announcer Dave Barnett has been a lifelong friend. The only time I was really impressed was when he became the voice of the Spurs. "Wow, you have Terry Stembridge's old job? There are kids that think of YOU the way that WE thought of Terry Stembridge?"
MEMORIES OF MIKE ELLIS: "If you lived in the Dallas area in the late 60's or early 70's, there's a real good chance your only memories of pro basketball (other than the Sunday afternoon NBA game on ABC, which always featured the Celtics against the 76ers, or so it seemed ) involved the Dallas Chaparrals.
I was 11 when they started play in 1967. My uncle took me to my first game early on in that first season. I was awestruck. My goodness, those guys could shoot. Cliff Hagan and his hook, Cincy Powell with his "flutterball" that seemed to take forever to get to the basket, John Beasley with his no-arc flat-footed shot. All these shots had one thing in common - the Dallas player rarely missed. Maybe that was a result of the fact that no one was interested in playing any defense in the early ABA, but it was still amazing to watch. I made it to about 30 more games while they were still the Chaparrals and listened to the talented Terry Stembridge call all the rest. They had a few really good players and quite a few stiffs, but I loved them, every one.
Even as much as I loved the Chaps, most of my favorite memories of those days were of the opposing players. There so many great ones. You wouldn't know it to catch his tiresome coaching act these days, but Larry Brown was an unbelievable basketball player. I also remember Larry Jones of the Denver Rockets. He had a scoring streak where he scored over 30 points in 35 consecutive games (or something along those lines), just unbelievable stuff. Then there was the not flashy but just as effective Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, Mel Daniels, and Rick Barry. I personally didn't like Barry because he was such a crybaby and a gunner, but you just couldn't argue with his talent. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. The ABA was an exiting alternative to the moribund NBA and I'll always cherish the time it was with us in Dallas."