San Diego Sails Fan Memories

MEMORIES OF JAMES BORDER: "I was fresh out of college, a new arrival in San Diego, a fan of college sports. Being from Iowa I rooted for any player that had done well against USC or UCLA. So I bought a ticket to see the professional debut of David Thompson versus the Sails in their home opener. I was not disappointed. The game was well played and exciting. I will never forget when David Thompson was whistled for pinning the ball on the top of the (south) backboard - I saw it with my own eyes."

MEMORIES OF DON KENNEDY: "I was a major Denver Nuggets fan during the mid 1970's. I listened to or watched every game that I could. During Larry Browns reign, Denver had the most productive offense in the ABA.

In October of 1975, I was in San Diego for a few months, and managed to see a game. It was the Sails' home opener. The San Diego Sports Arena had probably 5,000 fans there that night.

I took one of those little Kodak "pocket instamatic" cameras with me. I purchased the cheapest tickets but was able to move courtside to watch the pre-game warmups. After warmups, I just took a seat on the floor, opposite the teams benches.

In the first picture (right), Byron Beck chats with Larry Brown before the game. The other pictures (below) show some blurry shots of David Thompson during pregame warmups and in the first quarter.

About halfway through the first quarter, I was told by an usher to go to my actual seat. Of course I moved down again later on, and sat near courtside for the rest of the game."


You might wonder why these blurry photos are shown here. They are included not for their quality, but for their incredible rarity. These are the only color photos known to exist from a San Diego Sails home game.

On October 24, 1975, Don Kennedy went to the Sails' home opener against the Denver Nuggets. The game was the first game of the season for both teams. Being an avid fan of the Nuggets, Don naturally brought his trusty Kodak Instamatic camera to the game. He bought cheap tickets, but snuck down to a courtside seat, where he was able to snap these pictures. On the left, Nuggets' rookie David Thomspon skies for a windmill dunk during pre-game warmups. On the right, Thompson (#33) floats in for dunk during the game itself, with the Sails' Mark Olberding (#53) watching helplessly from behind.

Don was only able to stay in the courtside seats for the first few minutes of the 1st quarter (an usher caught him and forced Don to move to up to the cheap seats printed on his ticket). Therefore, it is very possible that the photo on the right shows the very first pro basket of Thompson's Hall of Fame career.

The Sails only played two more home games before going belly-up on November 12, 1975 (thanks to Don Kennedy for contributing these photos to Remember the ABA).

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