On this date 45 years ago, more than 16,000 people packed Freedom Hall to watch the Kentucky Colonels defeat the Indiana Pacers 110-105 in Game 5 of the 1975 ABA Championship.
Coached by Hubie Brown, the Colonels were led by Artis Gilmore, a sensational seven-footer with an enormous afro. Named MVP of the series, Gilmore had 28 points, 31 rebounds and three blocked shots in the series clinching win.
Two of Gilmore’s greatest teammates were former Wildcats. Each player recorded a double-double in the final game of the series. Dan Issel had 16 points and 12 rebounds while Louie Dampier finished with 12 points and 12 assists. Each were eventually inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, but Issel told the Herald-Leader the victory for the Colonels 45 years ago was “the highlight of my basketball career.”
“That night, it was like the weight of the world was taken off of our shoulders,” Issel said Wednesday. “We finally were ABA champions.”
You can join others to watch a replay of that spectacular victory on the NBA2Lou Facebook page at 7:30 p.m. ET or go ahead and get it rolling right now on YouTube.
If you don’t want to sit down for an entire game, these two minutes from ESPN’s “Basketball: A Love Story” should paint a pretty clear picture of what the Colonels brought to professional basketball in 1975 and how they helped pave the way for the ABA-NBA merger the following year.
(2/2) What a magical time in the Derby City.
— NBA to Louisville (@nba2lou) May 22, 2020