The Kentucky Colonels were a member of the American Basketball Association for all of the league's nine years. The name is derived from the historic Kentucky colonels. The Colonels won the most games and had the highest winning percentage of any franchise in the league's history, but the team did not join the NBA in the 1976 ABA–NBA merger. The downtown Louisville Convention Center (now known as The Gardens) was the Colonels' original venue for the first three seasons before moving to Freedom Hall for the remaining seasons, beginning with the 1970–71 schedule.
The Kentucky Colonels were only one of two ABA teams, along with the Indiana Pacers, to play for the entire duration of the league without relocating, changing its team name, or folding. The Colonels were also the only major league franchise in Kentucky since the Louisville Breckenridges left the National Football League in 1923.
|Arena||Louisville Convention Center (1967–1970)|
Freedom Hall (1970–1976)
|Team colors||Chartreuse and white (1967–1970)|
Blue, red, and white (1970–1976)
|Head coach||(1967) John Givens|
(1967–1970) Gene Rhodes
(1970) Alex Groza
(1970–1971) Frank Ramsey
(1971–1973) Joe Mullaney
(1973–1974) Babe McCarthy
(1974–1976) Hubie Brown
|Ownership||Don Regan (1967)|
Joseph E. Gregory, Mamie Gregory, and William C. Boone (1967–1969)
H. Wendell Cherry, Bill DeWitt, Stuart Jay, David Jones, John Y. Brown, Jr., and Mike Storen (1969–1973)
John Y. Brown, Jr. and Ellie Brown (1973–1976)
|Conference titles||no conference play in ABA|
|Division titles||4 (1971, 1972, 1973, 1975)|
The Louisville-based Colonels started their time in the ABA as a colorful franchise, and not just because of their bright chartreuse green uniforms. Among the things they were known for was their "mascot" Ziggy, a prize-winning Brussels Griffon dog that was owned by original team owners Joe and Mamie Gregory.
They were equally famous for publicity stunts, their most famous coming in 1968 when Penny Ann Early, the first licensed female horse racing jockey, was signed to appear in an ABA game (albeit for a few seconds).
The early color of their franchise began to wane during the 1970–71 season, when they signed another Wildcat star in All-American Dan Issel. They also dropped the chartreuse green uniforms in favor of a blue and white scheme similar to that of the Wildcats. Another abnormality to the Colonels uniform change was that the players' last names on the back had only the first letter capitalized, as opposed to all capital letters, which are almost universally featured on the back of nearly every professional or collegiate basketball uniform which names on the back of jerseys are featured. Issel's signing helped the Colonels become well known as a legitimate basketball team. Despite an average record in the regular season, they made a serious run at the 1971 ABA championship. They fell just short, however, and lost to the Utah Stars in seven games.
They proved to be even better in 1971, with the signing of Artis Gilmore. Gilmore's signing would help make the Colonels a legitimate powerhouse for years to come. The Colonels won 68 games in his rookie campaign under coach Joe Mullaney; their record turned out to be best in the league's entire history. Yet, in the playoffs, they were upset by the New York Nets in the first round. Kentucky recovered and made another championship run during the 1972–73 playoffs, but lost a physical series to the Indiana Pacers in 7 games, 4 games to 3.
After the season, the franchise was nearly moved out-of-state to Cincinnati, but was purchased by John Y. Brown, Jr., a future Kentucky governor who owned Kentucky Fried Chicken for years. Brown helped increase interest in the team, and looked to improve its on-court performance by hiring popular ABA coach Babe McCarthy. But after they were swept in the second round of the playoffs by the Nets, Brown gave McCarthy his walking papers.
For the 1974–75 season, Brown hired Hubie Brown (no relation), a former NBA assistant coach, to give them that championship. Unlike the past year, the Colonels would not be denied. After a torrid finish to the regular season, which saw them win 23 of 26 games, they ripped through the playoffs, and beat their nemesis, the Indiana Pacers, in a dominant 4 games to 1 victory to win the 1975 ABA championship. Gilmore scored 28 points and grabbed an amazing 31 rebounds in the final game. That same season the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Title. Colonels owner, John Y. Brown, offered the NBA Champs a million dollars to play a one-game world championship. The Warriors and the NBA refused.
The celebration of the 1975 season ended when John Y. Brown, Jr. dealt Dan Issel to the ABA's new Baltimore Claws franchise (which folded after a few preseason exhibition games, never taking the floor in the regular season) for financial reasons. They acquired all-star Caldwell Jones to replace him, but he never gelled with the team. Jones was dealt mid-season for young Maurice Lucas. Hubie managed to make the team competitive, but they lost in the postseason to the Denver Nuggets in 7 games.
Kentucky was one of the league's most talented teams, and had one of its best fan bases, but during the ABA's talks of merging with the NBA, the Colonels were not a favorite to change leagues. As a result, John Y. Brown, Jr. was forced to fold the Colonels. Brown would indeed get an NBA franchise: he purchased the Buffalo Braves in 1976, then traded it for the Boston Celtics two years later.
Colonels players were distributed to other teams in a dispersal draft, with Artis Gilmore being drafted first by the Chicago Bulls. Maurice Lucas went on to be an all-star for the Portland Trail Blazers and Louie Dampier, who ended up being the all-time leader in points and assists, ended his career as a sixth man for the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Hubie Brown went on to coach the Atlanta Hawks for five seasons after the merger before being fired.
The Colonels won 448 games in the ABA, more than any other team or franchise. The Colonels' overall regular season record was 448–296; their .602 winning percentage is better than that of any ABA franchise except for the Minnesota Muskies who only played one season. (If the Utah Stars' statistics are counted on their own, excluding their seasons as the Anaheim Amigos and the Los Angeles Stars, that team's winning percentage, .608, is slightly better than the Colonels'.)
The Colonels' playoff record was 55–46 (.545). Only the Indiana Pacers won more ABA playoff games (69).
On March 6, 1967, the American Basketball Association awarded the franchise that became the Kentucky Colonels to Don Regan for $30,000. Later that year the franchise was bought by Joseph Gregory, Mamie Gregory and William C. Boone.
John Givens was named as the first coach of the Colonels.
The Colonels draft picks were used on UK standout Louie Dampier, who signed with the Colonels; Western Kentucky University standout Clem Haskins, who signed with the NBA's Chicago Bulls; Bob Verga, who signed with Dallas, and Randy Mahaffey, who signed with the Colonels. The team also signed Darel Carrier (WKU) and Jim "Goose" Ligon (from Kokomo, Indiana). The Colonels' 1967–68 roster was rounded out with Kendall Rhine (Rice University), Stew Johnson (Murray State), Rubin Russell, Bill Bradley (Tennessee Tech), Cotton Nash (UK), Bobby Rascoe (WKU), Howard Bayne (Tennessee), Orbie Bowling (Tennessee) and Tommy Woods.
The Colonels played their home games at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (Freedom Hall) and at the Louisville Convention Center (now Louisville Gardens). The team only won 5 of their first 17 games, leading to Givens being fired as coach. He was replaced by Gene Rhodes. In November, Stew Johnson was traded to the New Jersey Americans for Jim Caldwell. Darel Carrier, Randy Mahaffey and Louie Dampier played in the ABA All Star game but the team finished with a record of 36 wins and 42 losses, tying New Jersey for fourth place in the Eastern Division. For the season the Colonels averaged 3,225 fans per game.
The Colonels and Americans scheduled a one-game playoff game to determine who would get the playoff bid slated for the Eastern Division's fourth place team. The game was scheduled at the Long Island Arena, as New Jersey's Teaneck Armory was unavailable, but the facility was in such poor condition that the game could not be played, and the Colonels won by forfeit. The Colonels then advanced to the Eastern Division semifinals where they lost to the Minnesota Muskies 3 games to 2.
Among the Colonels' draft picks was University of Louisville star Wes Unseld, who opted to take a higher paying deal with the NBA's Baltimore franchise. The Colonels also drafted Manny Leaks and Gene Moore, who signed with the team. Sam Smith was acquired from Minnesota and then Randy Mahaffey and Manny Leaks were traded to the New York Nets for Oliver Darden and Andy Anderson.
The Colonels hosted the 1969 ABA All-Star Game in Louisville. Kentucky coach Gene Rhodes was the head coach for the East team, which lost to the West 133-127. Darel Carrier and Louie Dampier repeated as ABA All Stars and were joined by Kentucky's Jim "Goose" Ligon.
During this season the Colonels fielded the first ever female professional basketball player when jockey Penny Ann Early joined the team for pregame warmups and appeared briefly during a game.
The Colonels finished in third place in the Eastern Division with a 42-36 record. Their average home attendance was 4,157.
In the Eastern Division semifinals the Colonels lost a tight series to their rival the Indiana Pacers, 4 games to 3.
The Colonels used their draft picks to select Bob Dandridge, who joined the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and Herm Gilliam, who signed with the NBA's Cincinnati franchise. Bud Olsen, former Kentucky Wesleyan College star George Tinsley, future Kentucky Wesleyan coach Wayne Chapman and former University of Kentucky star Tommy Kron were added to the roster.
In April 1969 the Colonels were bought by a group of Louisville investors that included H. Wendell Cherry, Bill DeWitt, J. David Grissom, Stuart P. Jay, David A. Jones, John Y. Brown, Jr. and Mike Storen. Storen had previously been the president and general manager of the Indiana Pacers. The group then hired former University of Kentucky star Alex Groza as the team's business manager.
Darel Carrier and Louie Dampier again appeared in the ABA All Star Game and were joined by Gene Moore.
The Colonels finished the season with a record of 45-39 which was good for second place in the Eastern Division.
The Colonels defeated the New York Nets 4 games to 3 in the Eastern Division semifinals but lost in the Eastern Division finals to the Indiana Pacers, 4 games to 1.
In July the Colonels traded Jim "Goose" Ligon, Gene Moore and Bud Olsen to Dallas for Cincy Powell. They also signed University of Kentucky star Dan Issel. Issel was given a 10-year contract worth $1.4 million. The Colonels also traded a draft pick to the New York Nets for Walt Simon. Mike Pratt joined the Colonels' roster for the season.
The Colonels began the regular season with a 10-5 record, resulting in coach Gene Rhodes being fired. Rhodes was briefly replaced by Alex Groza, who won both games he coached. Groza was quickly replaced as coach by Frank Ramsey, the former star for the University of Kentucky and the Boston Celtics.
The Colonels finished the regular season with a record of 44-40 and in second place in the Eastern Division. Their average home attendance for the season was 7,375. Beginning with this season the Colonels moved their home games from the Louisville Convention Center (now Louisville Gardens) to Freedom Hall.
The Colonels defeated The Floridians 4 games to 2 in the Eastern Division semifinals and defeated the Virginia Squires 4 games to 2 in the Eastern Division finals. Facing the Utah Stars in the ABA championship, the Colonels and Stars each won three games before Utah pulled out Game 7 at home in front of an ABA record crowd. The Colonels finished as the league's runner up.
The Colonels' draft picks included Artis Gilmore, John Roche and Mike Gale, who all signed with Kentucky, and Fred Brown and Larry Steele, who signed with the Seattle SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA, respectively. The Colonels then sold Roche to the New York Nets. Gilmore, like Issel, signed a contract for 10 years and $1.5 million. Joe Mullaney was named coach of the Colonels.
On September 22, 1971, the Colonels played in the second ever ABA vs. NBA preseason exhibition game. 13,821 fans watched the Colonels defeat the Baltimore Bullets 111-85 in Freedom Hall. It was the ABA's first win against the NBA, as the ABA's Dallas Chaparrals had lost to the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks 106-103 the night before in the first ever matchup between the two leagues.
On October 8, 1971, the Colonels hosted the Milwaukee Bucks and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at Freedom Hall in front of over 18,000 fans. Dan Issel scored 34 points and Artis Gilmore posted 18 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. However, Abdul-Jabbar had 30 points, 20 rebounds and 3 blocked shots and the Bucks edged the Colonels, 99-93. The very next night the Colonels hosted the New York Knicks in Freedom Hall. The Knicks won, 112-100, before 12,238 fans.
The Colonels had a terrific regular season. Mullaney coached in the ABA All Star Game, heading up the East team which won 142-115. Dan Issel, Louie Dampier and Artis Gilmore each played in the All Star Game for the East team; Issel was the game's Most Valuable Player. Gilmore ended up as the league's Most Valuable Player at the end of the season and was also the league's Rookie of the Year. Gilmore's impressive statistics included leading the league with 3,666 minutes in play, a field goal percentage of 59.8% and an average of 17.8 rebounds per game. Gilmore and Issel were both on the All-ABA First Team.
Kentucky finished the season with the best record ever posted in ABA play, with 68 wins and 16 losses, a winning percentage of .810. This secured the Colonels' first ever first-place finish in the Eastern Division. The Colonels' average home attendance was 8,811.
Kentucky's remarkable season came to a surprising end when the Colonels lost in the Eastern Division semifinals to the New York Nets, 4 games to 2.
Prior to the season the Colonels traded Cincy Powell to the Utah Stars for a draft pick and cash, and bought Rick Mount from the Indiana Pacers for $250,000. Wendell Ladner joined the Colonels' roster for the season.
In preseason play, on September 23, 1972, the Colonels hosted the NBA's Atlanta Hawks for an exhibition game in Frankfort. Julius Erving played for the Hawks, posting 28 points and 18 rebounds in 42 minutes. The Hawks prevailed, 112-99. On September 30, 1972 the Colonels traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for an exhibition game against the Phoenix Suns. The Colonels won, 120-118. On October 1, 1972 the Milwaukee Bucks returned to Freedom Hall. Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar each scored 20 points as the Bucks beat the Colonels 131-100. On October 6, 1972 the Phoenix Suns played the Colonels at Freedom Hall. The Suns won, 103-91. The next night the Colonels lost a close game to the Baltimore Bullets, 95-93.
Louie Dampier, Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore returned to the ABA All-Star Game. Gilmore was again First Team All-ABA and posted a 55.9% field goal percentage and averaged 17.6 rebounds per game. Issel led the league in minutes played with 3,531.
The Colonels finished in second place in the Eastern Division with a record of 56 wins and 28 losses. Their average home attendance was 7,113.
The Colonels beat the Virginia Squires 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Division Semifinals and beat the Carolina Cougars 4 games to 3 in the Eastern Division finals. The Colonels then lost a very close ABA Championship Series to the Indiana Pacers, 4 games to 3.
Prior to the Colonels' 1973–74 season the Colonels drafted M.L. Carr and Ron Behagen; Carr stayed in college and Behagen signed with the NBA's Kansas City-Omaha Kings. The Colonels also selected Ernie DiGregorio in a special circumstance draft but he signed with the NBA's Buffalo Braves.
In July 1973 the franchise was bought by a group headed by John Y. Brown, Jr. and his wife Ellie Brown. Ellie Brown was later named Chairman of the Board of the team; the board itself was made up of ten women. Legendary former University of Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp was named as Vice President of the Board. Mike Storen left the team; he later surfaced with the ABA's Memphis franchise. Former head coach Gene Rhodes became general manager of the team.
Head coach Joe Mullaney departed to become head coach of the Utah Stars. Mullaney was succeeded by Babe McCarthy.
In preseason play against the NBA the Colonels defeated the Houston Rockets 110-102 at Freedom Hall on September 21, 1973 and defeated the Kansas City-Omaha Kings 110-99 the following night.
In January 1974 the Colonels traded Jim O'Brien and a first round draft pick to the San Diego Conquistadors for Red Robbins and Chuck Williams. That same month Kentucky dealt Rick Mount to the Utah Stars for a draft pick and cash, and then sent Mike Gale and Wendell Ladner to the New York Nets for former Colonel John Roche.
Louie Dampier, Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore again played in the ABA All-Star Game, and Babe McCarthy coached the East team. Gilmore was again named the game's Most Valuable Player. Gilmore again posted remarkable statistics including 3,502 minutes played (tops in the league) and 18.3 rebounds per game (Gilmore grabbed 40 rebounds in one game against the New York Nets that season). Louie Dampier posted a league high 38.7% percentage in three-point shots. Babe McCarthy and his Colonels predecessor Joe Mullaney were named ABA Co-Coaches of the Year.
The Colonels posted a regular season record of 53 wins and 31 losses, clinching second place in the Eastern Division. Kentucky's average home attendance for the season was 8,201.
In the playoffs Kentucky defeated the Carolina Cougars 4 games to none in the Eastern Division semifinals but then lost the Eastern Division finals to the New York Nets 4 games to none. Despite being named ABA Coach of the Year, Babe McCarthy was fired at the end of the season.
The Colonels took Jim Price, Greg Smith, Rowland Garrett, Herm Gilliam and Larry Steele in a draft of NBA players, bought Ted McClain from the Carolina Cougars, signed Wil Jones, and traded a draft pick and cash to the San Antonio Spurs for Bird Averitt. The Colonels also sent Al Eberhard to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Marv Roberts and sent Red Robbins to the Virginia Squires for cash. John Roche was sold to the Utah Stars in the midst of the season. Gene Littles was added to the Colonels roster for the season.
Hubie Brown was named the new head coach of the Colonels.
In preseason play against the NBA the Colonels lost a game in Lincoln, Nebraska to the Kansas City-Omaha Kings 102-91 on September 29, 1974; beat the Washington Bullets 118-95 at Freedom Hall on October 1, 1974; lost by one point on the road to the Houston Rockets on October 5, 1974, 96-95; beat the Detroit Pistons 109-100 at Freedom Hall on October 8, 1974 and on October 12, 1974 defeated the Chicago Bulls at Freedom Hall 93-75.
Louie Dampier, Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore again played in the ABA All Star Game. Gilmore again was First Team All ABA and led the league with 3,493 minutes played.
The Colonels claimed first place in the Eastern Division with a record of 58 wins and 26 losses, but tied with the New York Nets for the division crown. The Colonels' average home attendance was 8,727.
The Colonels began the playoffs with a one-game matchup against the New York Nets to determine who would be first place in the Eastern Division. The Colonels won that game in Louisville 108-99. The Colonels then defeated the Memphis Sounds 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Division semifinals and defeated the Spirits of St. Louis 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Division finals. The Colonels met their rivals the Indiana Pacers for the ABA Championship and the Colonels prevailed, 4 games to 1, winning their first ABA Championship.
Colonels owner John Y. Brown offered one million dollars to the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors to play a world title game. The NBA and Golden State refused. Many believe the Colonels were the better team. Hubie Brown went on to coach many teams in the NBA but has always maintained (including in his Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction) that the 1974–75 Colonels were the best team he coached.
Prior to the season the Colonels and the ABA's commissioner, Dave DeBusschere, challenged the NBA to have its champion, the Golden State Warriors, face the Colonels in a championship series, the winner of which would get $1 million. The NBA declined. Interest in ABA vs. NBA play extended beyond the two leagues' management. In 1976, CBS sought to establish a postseason playoff between the ABA and NBA, and to win the rights to broadcast those games.
To the dismay of Colonels fans and players, owner John Y. Brown, Jr. dealt star Dan Issel to the Baltimore Claws prior to the season for $500,000; the cash was not forthcoming from the struggling Baltimore franchise and Issel ended up with the Denver Nuggets shortly before the Claws were shut down by the league.
Gene Rhodes was named vice president of operations and David Vance was named general manager for the team.
In preseason play the Colonels defeated the Chicago Bulls, 95–86, at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati on October 1, 1975; lost to the New York Knicks in Landover, Maryland at the Capital Centre, 107–102, on October 4, 1975; defeated the Detroit Pistons 114-113 on October 5, 1975 in Cincinnati; defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 96-91 in Freedom Hall on October 10, 1975; lost an overtime game to the Detroit Pistons in Detroit on October 12, 1975, 115-107; defeated the Buffalo Braves, 120–116, in Freedom Hall on October 14, 1975; defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 112-110 in Cincinnati, Ohio on October 17, 1975; and won another ABA vs. NBA exhibition on October 19, 1975 with a 121-111 victory over the Washington Bullets in Lexington, Kentucky. The game against the Bullets was the penultimate ABA vs. NBA contest; two nights later in the final ABA vs. NBA matchup the Utah Stars defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 106–101.
The prior year, the NBA declined the ABA champion Colonels' challenge against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors for a $1 million payout. However, the two teams met on October 8, 1975, at Freedom Hall. The Colonels won the matchup of the league champions, 93–90.
The Colonels finished the 1975–76 preseason with a record of 7–2 against NBA teams. The Colonels, like the ABA as a whole, had a winning overall record against the NBA over the course of their existence.
Shortly after the regular season began the San Diego Sails folded and the Colonels picked up Caldwell Jones from their roster. Kentucky then traded Jones to the Spirits of St. Louis for Maurice Lucas. The Colonels also traded Marv Roberts to the Virginia Squires during the season in exchange for Johnny Neumann and Jan van Breda Kolff. Another move in the middle of the season sent Ted McClain to the New York Nets in exchange for $150,000. Allen Murphy, Jimmy Dan Connor, Johnny Neumann, Jimmy Baker, Kevin Joyce and Jim McDaniels joined the Colonels' roster for the 1975–76 season.
Artis Gilmore returned to the ABA All-Star Game and once again was named First Team All ABA. Dampier, after eight straight appearances in that game, was not chosen.
The Colonels finished in fourth place in the Eastern Division with a record of 46–38. Their average home attendance was 6,935.
The Colonels defeated their rivals, the Indiana Pacers, 2 games to 1 in the first round of the playoffs. In the league semifinals, the Colonels and the Denver Nuggets each won three games apiece before Denver claimed Game 7 133-110 at Denver on April 28, 1976. It was the Kentucky Colonels' final game.
The ABA had entered the 1975–1976 preseason with ten teams. After three preseason games, the Baltimore Claws were shut down by the league due to financial problems and unpaid bills. The San Diego Sails and the Utah Stars each folded shortly after the season began, the Sails after 11 games and the Stars after 16. The ABA was reduced to seven teams for the remainder of the season. Shortly after the regular season ended, the Virginia Squires were forced to fold because they could not meet a league-mandated financial assessment. The six remaining ABA teams began negotiations for the eventual ABA–NBA merger. In the end, the NBA agreed to take in four teams—but the Colonels weren't among them.
On July 17, 1976 the Kentucky Colonels ceased to exist as John Y. Brown, Jr. agreed to fold the Colonels in exchange for $3 million. Brown used the money to purchase the Buffalo Braves of the NBA, bringing Colonels head coach Joe Mullaney and point guard Bird Averitt with him to Buffalo. The Braves are now known as the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Colonels players were put into a dispersal draft. The Chicago Bulls took Artis Gilmore for $1.1 million. The Portland Trail Blazers took Maurice Lucas for $300,000. The Buffalo Braves took Bird Averitt for $125,000. The Indiana Pacers took Wil Jones for $50,000. The New York Nets took Jan Van Breda Kolff for $60,000. The San Antonio Spurs took Louie Dampier for $20,000.
In contrast to Brown receiving $3 million in cash for the Colonels, the Spirits of St. Louis' owners received $2.2 million in cash along with a 1/7 share of each of the four remaining teams' television income in perpetuity. That deal has been estimated to have generated over $250 million in the years since.
|Kentucky Colonels Hall of Famers|
|Frank Ramsey 1||Head coach||1970–1971||1982|
|Hubie Brown 2||Head coach||1974–1976||2005|
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Win–Loss %
|1967–68||36||42||.462||Won 1968 Eastern Division Playoff
Lost 1968 Eastern Division Semifinals
|Kentucky Colonels 1, New Jersey Americans 0|
Minnesota Muskies 3, Kentucky Colonels 2
|1968–69||42||36||.538||Lost 1969 Eastern Division Semifinals||Indiana Pacers 4, Kentucky Colonels 3|
|1969–70||45||39||.536||Won 1970 Eastern Division Semifinals
Lost 1970 Eastern Division Finals
|Kentucky Colonels 4, New York Nets 3|
Indiana Pacers 4, Kentucky Colonels 1
|1970–71||44||40||.524||Won 1971 Eastern Division Semifinals
Won 1971 Eastern Division Finals
Lost 1971 ABA Finals
|Kentucky Colonels 4, The Floridans 2|
Kentucky Colonels 4, Virginia Squires 2
Utah Stars 4, Kentucky Colonels 3
|1971–72||68||16||.810||Lost 1972 Eastern Division Semifinals||New York Nets 4, Kentucky Colonels 2|
|1972–73||56||28||.667||Won 1973 Eastern Division Semifinals
Won 1973 Eastern Division Finals
Lost 1973 ABA Finals
|Kentucky Colonels 4, Virginia Squires 1|
Kentucky Colonels 4, Carolina Cougars 3
Indiana Pacers 4, Kentucky Colonels 3
|1973–74||53||31||.631||Won 1974 Eastern Division Semifinals
Lost 1974 Eastern Division Finals
|Kentucky Colonels 4, Carolina Cougars 0|
New York Nets 4, Kentucky Colonels 0
|1974–75||58||26||.690||Won 1975 Eastern Division First Place Game
Won 1975 Eastern Division Semifinals
Won 1975 Eastern Division Finals
Won 1975 ABA Finals
|Kentucky Colonels 1, New York Nets 0|
Kentucky Colonels 4, Memphis Sounds 1
Kentucky Colonels 4, Spirits of St. Louis 1
Kentucky Colonels 4, Indiana Pacers 1
|1975–76||46||38||.548||Won 1976 First Round
Lost 1976 ABA Semifinals
|Kentucky Colonels 2, Indiana Pacers 1|
Denver Nuggets 4, Kentucky Colonels 3
Colonels games were broadcast throughout their history on WHAS Radio, the Louisville market's top-rated station at the time and a 50,000-watt clear-channel station, which meant that Colonels broadcasts could be heard over much of the continental United States at night. Van Vance was the play-by-play announcer for nearly all of the games in the franchise's history, with Cawood Ledford (better known as the longtime voice of the University of Kentucky Wildcats) behind the microphone as well, sometimes as color analyst beside Vance.
The Colonels had some games broadcast on various local television stations, but were usually only seen on TV during the ABA network games.
The 1973 ABA Playoffs was the postseason tournament of the American Basketball Association's 1972-1973 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Division champion Indiana Pacers defeating the Eastern Division champion Kentucky Colonels, four games to three in the ABA Finals.1974–75 ABA season
The 1974–75 ABA season was the eighth season of the American Basketball Association. The Kentucky Colonels won the 1975 ABA Championship after winning the Eastern Division; the Denver Nuggets won the Western Division. Julius Erving and George McGinnis shared the league's MVP award.1975 ABA Playoffs
The 1975 ABA Playoffs was the postseason tournament of the American Basketball Association's 1974–75 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion Kentucky Colonels defeating the Western Division champion Indiana Pacers, four games to one in the ABA Finals.
The Kentucky Colonels won 22 of their final 25 regular season games to catch the New York Nets for a share of first place in the Eastern Division. The Colonels won their last ten regular season games of the regular season. They also went 13–3 in the ABA playoffs.
Because the Colonels and Nets tied for first place in the Eastern Division, a special one game playoff was played to determine the conference champion. The Colonels hosted the game and defeated the Nets 108–99 on April 4, 1975.The Memphis Sounds' Eastern Division 111–99 semifinal loss on the road to the Kentucky Colonels on April 13, 1975, was the final game ever played by the Sounds. After the season they moved to Maryland and became the Baltimore Claws.
The first round win by the Spirits of St. Louis over the New York Nets was the biggest upset of the playoffs. Not only had the Spirits finished 26 games behind the Nets in the regular season, they had also lost all 11 regular season matchups to the Nets, and by an average of 17.3 points per game. But after losing the opener of the series to stretch the losing streak to 12, the Spirits rolled off four wins in a row to claim the series.
The 1975 ABA Finals marked the second time in three years that the Kentucky Colonels and Indiana Pacers met in the ABA championship series. The Pacers edged the Colonels 4 games to 3 at the end of the 1973 ABA Playoffs.
16,622 fans attended the final playoff game of the season in Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, as the Kentucky Colonels defeated the Indiana Pacers 110–105 to win the ABA Championship.
Artis Gilmore was named Most Valuable Player of the 1975 ABA Playoffs. Gilmore scored 28 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in the final game of the Finals and in Game 3 in Indianapolis Gilmore scored 41 points and nabbed 28 rebounds.
The 1975 Kentucky Colonels were the final team to win an ABA Championship but not move on to the NBA later.1976 ABA dispersal draft
On August 5, 1976, as a result of the ABA–NBA merger, the NBA hosted a dispersal draft to select players from the Kentucky Colonels and Spirits of St. Louis, the two American Basketball Association (ABA) franchises that were not included in the ABA–NBA merger.
The eighteen NBA teams and the four ABA teams that joined the NBA, the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs, were allowed to participate in the draft. The teams selected in reverse order of their win–loss percentage in the previous NBA and ABA seasons. The team that made a selection paid for the signing rights to the player, which were set by the league's committee. The money from the draft was used to help the four ABA teams that merged with the NBA to pay off some of their obligations to the two folded ABA franchises, the Colonels and Spirits. The team that made a selection was obligated to assume the player's ABA contract. The players who were not selected would become free agents.Twenty players from the Colonels and the Spirits were available for the draft. Eleven were selected in the first round and the twelfth player was selected in the second round. Eight players were not selected and thus became a free agent. The Chicago Bulls used the first pick to select five-time ABA All-Star Artis Gilmore with a signing price of $1,100,000. The Portland Trail Blazers, who acquired the Atlanta Hawks' second pick, selected Maurice Lucas and Moses Malone with signing price of $300,000 and $350,000 respectively. Marvin Barnes, who was selected fourth by the Detroit Pistons was the second most expensive player in the draft with a signing price of $500,000. Several teams elected to pass their first-round picks and only the Kansas City Kings used the second-round pick. The draft continued until the third round, but no other players were selected.2011 Eastern Kentucky Colonels football team
The 2011 Eastern Kentucky Colonels football team represented Eastern Kentucky University in the 2011 NCAA Division I FCS football season. The Colonels were led by fourth-year head coach Dean Hood and played their home games at Roy Kidd Stadium. They were a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). Eastern Kentucky has an overall record 7–5 with a 6–2 mark in OVC play share the conference title with Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech. They received an at–large bid in the FCS playoffs, where they lost in the first round to James Madison.2014 Eastern Kentucky Colonels football team
The 2014 Eastern Kentucky Colonels football team represented Eastern Kentucky University during the 2014 NCAA Division I FCS football season. They were led by seventh-year head coach Dean Hood and played their home games at Roy Kidd Stadium. They were a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). Eastern Kentucky had an overall record of 9–4 and 6–2 in OVC play to finish in second place. They received an at-large bid to the FCS Playoffs, where they lost in the first round to Indiana State.ABA–NBA merger
The merger of the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the National Basketball Association (NBA), after multiple attempts over several years, occurred in 1976. The NBA and ABA had entered merger talks as early as 1970, but an antitrust suit filed by the head of the NBA players union, Robertson v. National Basketball Ass'n, blocked the merger until 1976.
As part of the merger agreement, the NBA agreed to accept four of the remaining six ABA teams: the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs. The remaining two ABA teams, the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis, folded, with their players entering a dispersal draft.Alex Groza
Alex John Groza (October 7, 1926 – January 21, 1995) was an American professional basketball player from Martins Ferry, Ohio who was banned from the National Basketball Association (NBA) for life in 1951 for point shaving. This scandal was the CCNY point shaving scandal. He had an outstanding college career at the University of Kentucky and was a two-time All-NBA player for the Indianapolis Olympians before his career came to an abrupt end.Artis Gilmore
Artis Gilmore (born September 21, 1949) is an American retired basketball player who played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA). Gilmore was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on August 12, 2011.
A star center during his two collegiate years at Jacksonville University, Gilmore led the Dolphins to the NCAA Division I championship game in 1970, where his team was beaten 80-69 by the UCLA Bruins. Gilmore remains the top player in rebounds per game in the history of NCAA Division I basketball.
Gilmore followed five All-Star seasons with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA by becoming the first overall pick of the 1976 ABA Dispersal draft, which dispersed the players in the ABA clubs, such as the Colonels, that did not join the NBA. In Gilmore's complete pro basketball career, he was an eleven-time All-Star, the ABA Rookie of the Year, and an ABA MVP. Nicknamed "The A-Train", the 7'2" (2.18 m) Gilmore once played in 670 consecutive games.Eastern Kentucky Colonels
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels are the intercollegiate athletic teams of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), located in Richmond, Kentucky, United States. The Colonels athletic program is a charter member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) and competes at the NCAA Division I level including the Football Championship Subdivision. The EKU mascot is The Colonel, and the school colors are maroon and white. While the women's teams were formerly known as the Lady Colonels, the school now emphasizes that all teams are now Colonels.Eastern Kentucky Colonels football
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels football program represents Eastern Kentucky University in college football as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC), and competes at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level. The school has traditionally had much success on the football field, having won 21 OVC conference titles and two Division I FCS National Championships (then called Division I-AA) in 1979 and 1982, and reaching the finals in 1980 and 1981. Much of the success came during the long tenure of head coach Roy Kidd from 1964 to 2002. In 1990, Eastern honored Kidd by naming the school's football stadium Roy Kidd Stadium. Eastern Kentucky's football team was able to secure 31 consecutive winning seasons before finally posting a losing season record in 2009.
In September 2013, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper of nearby Lexington, reported that EKU was considering moving its program to the top-level Football Bowl Subdivision. However, under NCAA rules, such a move would require that EKU receive an invitation from an existing FBS conference.Eastern Kentucky Colonels men's basketball
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels basketball team is a men's college basketball team at Eastern Kentucky University, located in Richmond, Kentucky, United States. The basketball team has been competing in the Ohio Valley Conference since 1948. Home games are played at Alumni Coliseum, located on EKU's campus. The team last played in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 2014. The Colonels are coached by A.W. Hamilton, who came to EKU in 2018 after previous head coach Dan McHale was fired after 3 seasons.Ernie DiGregorio
Ernest DiGregorio (born January 15, 1951), also known as "Ernie D.", is an American former National Basketball Association player. He was the 1973–74 NBA Rookie of the Year and holds the NBA rookie record for assists in a single game with 25. Due to a severe knee injury suffered early in DiGregorio's professional career, he played only five NBA seasons.Frank Ramsey (basketball)
Frank Vernon Ramsey Jr. (July 13, 1931 – July 8, 2018) was an American professional basketball player and coach. A 6-3 guard, he played his entire nine-year (1954–1964) NBA career with the Boston Celtics and played a major role in the early part of their dynasty, winning seven championships as part of the team. Ramsey was also a head coach for the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA during the 1970–1971 season. Ramsey was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982.Glenn Presnell
Glenn Emery "Press" Presnell (July 28, 1905 – September 13, 2004) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He set the NFL single-season scoring record in 1933 and led the league in total offense. He was the last surviving member of the Detroit Lions inaugural 1934 team and helped lead the team to its first NFL championship in 1935. He also set an NFL record with a 54-yard field goal in 1934, a record which was not broken for 19 years. Presnell served as the head football coach at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1942 and at Eastern Kentucky State College—now known as Eastern Kentucky University–from 1954 to 1963, compiling a career college football coaching record of 45–56–3. He was also the athletic director at Eastern Kentucky from 1963 to 1971.Hubie Brown
Hubert Jude Brown (born September 25, 1933) is an American retired basketball coach and player and a current television analyst. Brown is a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, the honors being separated by 26 years. Brown was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. When asked in 1988 how long he will remain involved with the game of basketball, Hubie responded "I will stay involved in some capacity until the day Verne Lundquist dies."Kentucky Colonel
Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the governor and the secretary of state to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. The Governor of Kentucky bestows the honor of a colonel's commission, by issuance of letters patent.Louie Dampier
Louis Dampier (born November 20, 1944) is an American retired professional basketball player.
A 6-foot-tall guard, Dampier is one of only a handful of men to play all nine seasons in the American Basketball Association (ABA) (1967–1976), all with the Kentucky Colonels. He also was one of just two players to play all nine ABA seasons with the same team; the other was Byron Beck of the Denver Rockets, later renamed the Nuggets.
After the ABA–NBA merger in 1976 Dampier also played three seasons (1976–1979) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the San Antonio Spurs. Dampier was inducted as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.Maurice Lucas
Maurice Lucas (February 18, 1952 – October 31, 2010) was an American professional basketball player. The first two years of his postcollegiate career were spent in the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the Spirits of St. Louis and Kentucky Colonels. He then played twelve seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Portland Trail Blazers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knickerbockers, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Seattle SuperSonics. The starting power forward on the Trail Blazers' 1976–77 NBA Championship team, he was nicknamed The Enforcer because of his primary role on the court which was best exemplified in Game 2 of the NBA Finals that season.
|ABA All-Time Team Players|
Kentucky Colonels 1974–75 ABA champions