There is a K in there somewhere.
Steam continues to pick up on the ‘NBA to Louisville’, with opinions running the gamut. On the radio show today, Matt spoke with J. Bruce Miller. Miller really gave some great insight deeper into the inner-dealings that may or may not bring a professional basketball back to Kentucky. Its been many years since the Commonwealth has had a high-level professional basketball team. I grew up listening to my dad’s stories of running over to Kentucky Colonel games whenever he got a chance, grabbing autographs from players and watching his heroes up close and personal. Their stretch from 1967-1976 gave fans a chance to watch great basketball, whether at the Convention Center or Freedom Hall (post-1970). This site takes time to ‘remember the ABA‘, and is worth a look if you are interested in learning about or revisiting the past. (Be sure to check out the fan memories pages there, too)
Louie Dampier and Dan Issel are examples of University of Kentucky legends who saw their professional careers take off in the Bluegrass as Colonels. Both went from All-America college players to being pro stars.
Wendell “Mr. Excitement” Ladner only played two seasons with the Colonels, but he made a lasting impression (presumably on that locker room bench). He was a known enforcer, as evidenced by his mustache. Also served as inspiration to Burt Reynolds during the 1970’s.
Artis Gilmore was never a Wildcat, but he did something John Wall and several Wildcats will do under John Calipari: become the over No.1 NBA Draft pick. When the ABA went under in 1976, the Chicago Bulls selected Gilmore as the first overall pick in the dispersion draft. Despite not being inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, he made several All-Star games and holds the record for career field goal percentage. Hopefully, we will see more UK guys as All-Stars in the near future.
One year after winning the ABA Championship, the Kentucky Colonels held their final season in 1975-1976. The ABA’s collapse and the NBA’s impending dominance doomed the highest level of basketball in the state of Kentucky. Whether or not you were lucky enough to have lived through this Jackie-Moon-esque time, the Kentucky Colonels provided over a decade of great pro basketball in our state. The chance that we could see another team come back to the state is very exciting, even if being able to fully supporting it may only be a dream. The idea of foreign investment discussed by Matt and J. Bruce Miller gives hope for an NBA team in Louisville, and that has to make Calipari happy.