Utah Stars Fan Memories (Page 2)

MEMORIES OF CRAIG McMORRIS: "One of my memories of the old ABA is when the Los Angeles Stars moved to Salt Lake City and became the Utah Stars. The Salt Lake radio stations constantly played the following jingle...

'Here come the Stars, here come the Stars...here come the Stars! Pro basketball is here at last... Here come the Stars....

Now we've got the team and we've got the action... Utah's first and the main attraction...

Here come the Stars from Utah here come the Stars... Here come the Stars from Utah, here come the Stars!'

Or at least that's how I remember it."

MEMORIES OF SCOTT McPHEE: "I have a lot of Stars memories. I was there for the ABA Finals Game 7 in 1971, which the Stars won. My brother and I were sitting up quite high in the arena, but it was great. I also remember our radio announcer, longtime local sportscaster Bill Howard. He was a great old school broadcaster. The Stars had a theme song, that's right,a theme song - "Here come the Stars from Utah…" I don't think any team has an official theme song today, do they? There was a siren in the arena that went off when a 3 pointer was made. I remember a Stars rookie by the name of Moses Malone. I recall the accessibility of the players compared to nowadays, and their willingness to sign autographs. Even some of the NBA players were accessible when they came to play exhibition games with the Stars. I loved the red, white and blue ball, Dr. J, Dan Issel, Louie Dampier, Big George McGinnis, Billy Keller, Marin Barnes, John Brisker, and all the Stars players."

MEMORIES OF RUSS STOKES: "As a boy I loved pro basketball. I use to put a transistor radio up to my head while in bed at night and ever so gently move the tuning dial until I would finally could pick up the L.A. Lakers. It was almost magic that I could be so far away - Riverton, Utah and listen to a Lakers game. I remember hearing that a professional basketball team was coming to Utah and I was pretty excited. I started going to the games and loved the red, white and blue ball and especially the three point shot. The players looked so tall and strong. I started to listen to every game. Bill Howard was the best play-play guy for radio. I still have a few old tapes of him doing play-by-play and he is one of the best ever. I remember one Christmas, my Dad and I went to a game. The score was something like 156 - 145, and I believe the Stars beat the Kentucky Colonels. It was exciting to watch these guys. The ABA gave us up close exposure to professional athletes. And we loved these guys. When the Stars won the championship, Zelmo Beaty could have run for Mayor of SLC and would have been voted in.

My favorite Stars were Willie Wise, Zelmo Beaty and Ron Boone. Other players I liked were Rick Mount and Red Robbins. The bad guys from the other teams were toothless Dan Issel, Cincy Powell (who later became a Utah Star) and Billy Keller from Indiana. The guy could bring back his team by shooting three pointer after three pointer. It was to the point where, on more than one occasion, Keller single-handedly won the game for the Pacers. Cincy Powell and Ron Boone squared off one time and it was the real thing, fists-a-flying and blood flowing.

My father never liked sports in his life. But he was given a ticket to attend a Stars game, and he became instantly hooked. The very next year he bought season tickets for himself and my mother. When he had to undergo open heart surgery, his first question after coming to was, "Did the Stars win?"

I remember the exhibition game between the Utah Stars and the Milwaukee Bucks, the year after both teams won titles in their respective leagues. Unfortunately, the Stars lost the game, but it was close. I believe if the Stars had won that game, their credibility as a bon-a-fide pro-basketball team would have been firmly established outside of Utah.

I left Utah over 15 years ago. I live in Wisconsin now, and the only thing I can compare with the excitement that I and other people got from watching and following the early Utah Stars is the way Green Bay fans here love their Packers."

MEMORIES OF BRIAN HANSON: "My mother took me and my two brothers to Salt Lake City to see our grandparents. While we were there, my mother took us to a game against the Indiana Pacers. We didn't know much about the Stars, except that they had the young Moses Malone on the team. I know we were there around the middle of November, I know there was very small crowd and I remember it was Moses' second year in the league. I think it was the last year the Stars played. I still have the game program somewhere. Some of the good players had been traded or sold to other teams. I think the most enjoyable part of the experience was getting autographs after the game. I remember Ron Boone being a smooth dresser, but not real patient, probably tired of all the rumors about the ABA and the Stars. Other players were very nice - Randy Denton and Jim Eakins are about the only ones I can remember. Moses was injured and did not play. We did see him walking in the locker room hallway right after the game, but we were too shy to ask him for an autograph. I do remember a lot of the evening and I thank my mother for taking us. The ABA was very cool."

MEMORIES OF DAVID ROHLFING: "I was working in Utah in 1976, and arrived there after the Stars had folded. There was a lot of bad feelings in Utah about the Stars having folded. But people still loved the Stars and, in fact, the outside of the Salt Palace still had the Utah Stars' emblem affixed to it. There were a number of ex-Stars on the Spirits' roster (Ron Boone comes to immediate mind). As a result, there had been some sort of talk about a Stars-Spirits merger that never happened. Utah had a pretty good ABA fan base, and this, coupled with a near total lack of crowds at Spirits games in St. Louis, led to new rumors that there would be a shift of the Spirits to Salt Lake City for the 1976-77 season. I believe that this was actually announced sometime in May of 1976 on KSL-TV by their sports director, Paul James. The new team was, indeed, to be called the "Utah Rockies." A short while later came the ABA/NBA merger, the demise of the Spirits franchise, and the end of all that.

But back to March of 1976. Because of the heavy presence of former Stars on the Spirits roster, it was decided that, to showcase a possible move, a regular season game would be played at the Salt Palace between the Spirits and the San Antonio Spurs. I don't know how many neutral-court ABA games were played that season, but this lure was impossible to pass up. The game was announced about 10 days before it was played. There was next to no publicity, and thus there were next to no fans in attendance. I think that a crowd of around 3,000 was announced, but this figure was clearly padded. There was general admission seating (at $4 per ticket), a 4-page pamphlet for a game program (I still have the thing), and Marvin Barnes played wearing a uniform with no number on it. There was an award of some kind given to Ron Boone. The Spirits played with the "precision" that one would have expected of them in that year, at that particular event, and lost by about 25 points. But it was actually a wonderful event and the last ABA game that I witnessed. Over the years, I saw ABA games in New York, Denver, and, of course, Salt Lake. I regret that I was never a part of the "big" crowds at places like Pittsburgh, Memphis, and Virginia. Oh, well, at least I really WAS at a number of ABA games. I think that by the end the league was pretty good. Any organization that Red Auerbach despised had to have something worthwhile about it."

Utah Stars Fan Memories (Page 1)

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