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Rewatch the Kentucky Colonels’ 1975 ABA Championship Win



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.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

11 Comments for Rewatch the Kentucky Colonels’ 1975 ABA Championship Win

  1. Not Dan Issel
    4:16 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

    I was there. My family had season tickets, first row under the north bench. I watched a lot of great basketball during the heydays of the ABA. That night was electric for everyone. A great win. Hubie Brown did a fantastic job coaching the Colonels.

  2. neilbert
    4:25 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

    We also had season tickets. I was 11 years old when they won it all. Still have a scrapbook and a colonels program signed by adolph rupp !!! To this day I believe they were better than any nba team that year

  3. sundanze77
    5:02 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

    I was there,!!! Horrible thunderstorm after the game & couldn’t find my car ,& then I realized that I drove my parent’s car…lol

  4. J. Did
    5:11 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

    sundanze77 – my second thought.
    I recall listening to it on the radio – in the basement due to severe storms.
    My mom was uber-cautious due to the Tornado of 4/03/74.
    ABA and storms – Memories.
    Thanks for the memory lanes.

  5. crazycatfan65
    5:34 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

    I was 10 years old and still remember going to the Colonels game with my dad before he passed. The Colonels would have beaten any team in the NBA back then. Louie Dampier was my favorite player growing up. Great memories of those teams and times my dad and I shared watching the Colonels.

    • Not Dan Issel
      5:45 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

      I have no doubts that the Colonels were the best team in professional basketball in 1975.

  6. runningunnin.454
    6:37 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

    The ABA was good; great players, I would put Julius Erving up there with Jordan and James.

  7. tvor03
    9:28 pm May 22, 2020 Permalink

    Artis Gilmore is the reason the Colonels were not one of the teams included in the NBA-ABA merger, despite having more wins than any other team and being the most financially sound of the ABA teams.

    But Chicago held Gilmore’s NBA rights, and they would lose him to Kentucky if the Colonels were allowed in. So they refused to agree to the merger as long as Kentucky was one of teams that would be added. Eventually the ABA caved and agreed to add the Nets instead of Kentucky.

    Gilmore went to Chicago and became the best center the team has ever had. And no serious professional team has played in Kentucky since.

    • mcp157
      10:35 am May 23, 2020 Permalink

      No, the reason the Colonels did not go to the NBA is because John Y. Brown saved a few dollars by buying the Buffalo Braves and he LET the Colonels dissolve. If he would have put up a few hundred thousand more, like a true Kentuckian instead of a cut throat businessman, the Colonels would have been in the NBA with Gilmore. Do you actually think Gilmore was the only player in the ABA who was drafted by an NBA team and chose the ABA team? Mr. cut throat businessman also sold Dan Issel the last year the Colonels were in Louisville. Never voted for him because of these actions. If a loyal Kentuckian would have been at the helm we would have an NBA team right now. Still keeping my fingers crossed and it happens now. The ONLY way the YUM center will make money is if the NBA comes to Louisville!