Floridians Fan Memories (Page 2)

MEMORIES OF NORM NEFSKY: "I was in Miami for the first year of the Floridians, plus their later seasons. For whatever reason, the Floridians would play 6-7 games in the 10 days over the December holidays. I remember you could sit in the end zones, in the first row, for only $3. What a bargain! Sitting on the floor in Row 1, under the basket, you suddenly realized just how tall these guys were. My favorite players were Duane 'Skip' Thoren and Mack Calvin. Ahhhh, the good old days in Miami..."

MEMORIES OF KEN BERRYMAN: "The ABA started up when I was in high school, and as a basketball player myself, I was instantly attracted to the ABA with the funny ball and 3-point shot. The only way I could follow the ABA was subscribe to The Sporting News. I lived over 250 miles from any ABA city, but on October 5, 1971, I saw my first and only ABA game, an exhibition game between the Floridians and the Memphis Pros. I was attending the University of Oklahoma at the time and the game was being played on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK, 30 miles from the OU campus. You see, Al Tucker played for the Floridians and Bob Bass was their coach. Just a few years earlier, Tucker and Bass had led Oklahoma Baptist to the NAIA championship finals in 1965, 1966, and 1967, finishing second, first and second those 3 consecutive years. Tucker was a huge scoring machine in college, where he averaged almost 30 ppg, but at 6'8" and only 195 pounds, he never made it big at the pro level. So the game was a homecoming of sorts for these two local legends. My main reason for going to the game was to see Johnny Neumann, who was a rookie that year. He was one of my "heroes," as I had watched him on TV score over 60 points in a game once – I always thought he was the greatest "pure" shooter I had ever seen. I honestly don't remember who won this game, but I still have the 15-cent program as a souvenir. Memphis had Wendell Ladner, Jimmy Jones and Charlie Williams, which was a pretty good nucleus, but the player I remember the most was Gerald Govan and those Buddy Holly-style glasses he wore. He couldn't shoot, but he dominated the boards. Besides Tucker, Warren Armstrong, Larry Jones, and Mack Calvin played for the Floridians."

MEMORIES OF GLENN C. LEWIS: "When I was 16-17 years old, I was a member of the on air radio broadcast team for Floridians games during the 1969-70 and 70-71 seasons. We did home games from the Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove. We also traveled the state for regional games, and went on the road with the team. I worked with Bob Martin - Bob also did reporting for the 710 Sportsline which he owned and produced on WGBS-710 AM.

The games were wild. The team was mostly awful. As broadcasters we had complete autonomy. With all the hype and Floridians ballgirls (Vi Lloyd was my favorite!), we had a remarkable freedom to control our broadcasts. We reported the games in a professional and objective fashion. Bob was a pro and, as my mentor, trained me in the need for professional detachment. Nonetheless, as a very young guy enjoying my job, I ate up the opportunities to travel and take in everything the crazy road had to offer.

I will always remember the 4am flights and lonely, cold Western swings to Utah and Denver, with nothing but a radio/telephone line and microphone brief case as a road companion. We were presented with many technical and logistical challenges. But it was a blast, and "no sweat" at all for a young eager sports nut and local radio star looking for a bigger platform. The highlights of our experience were our opportunities to hang with and enjoy ABA stars such as Issel, Caldwell, Haywood, Congdon, Netolicky, and our own Calvin. Some guys were at the end of a career. Many others were brand new upstarts, benefiting from the bidding wars between the leagues.

One game I recall: A broadcast team member went crazy describing the collapse of our team's center, Skip Thoren. Though obviously in pain, this player was far from the "near death" being described by my overcooked partner. I grabbed the mike and dragged the cord into the Floridians locker room. I taped our team doctor as he examined Thoren's knee. He said it looked twisted but not like it needed major surgery. I then recorded a few calm comments from the injured player. His family called in tears, thanking me for saving them from hysteria after the initial, exaggerated report.

Another recollection: Home team broadcasters used to go on the air with visiting teams' play-by-play guys, to help fill in halftime reports. We used to go along with any scenario, broadcasting back to Dallas, to LA, to NY. We made up incredible stories about the size and tenacity of the crowd, even when there were less than 2000 fans."

Floridians Fan Memories (Page 1)

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