Spurs to honor ABA history with Dallas jerseys

The Spurs will be among nine NBA franchises who will honor the rich history of the American Basketball Association as part of the NBA’s Hardwood Classics series during the next several weeks.

The Spurs will wear vintage Dallas Chaparrals jerseys and warmups for three games — Feb. 11 at New Jersey, Feb. 18 at L.A. Clippers and March 31 when they host the Indiana Pacers.

I’m just curious why they won’t be wearing ABA San Antonio Spurs jerseys from the franchise’s history rather than one representing a team from Dallas.  

Other franchises participating will include Charlotte, Denver, Indiana, the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota and New Jersey. Former ABA franchises in Denver, Indiana and New Jersey will wear their old uniforms from their ABA past. Other teams and their former ABA franchises will include Charlotte (Carolina Cougars), the Clippers (Los Angeles Stars), Memphis (Memphis Tams), Miami (Miami Floridians) and Minnesota (Minnesota Muskies).

The uniforms will be made by adidas, the league’s official outfitter.

The Chaparrals originated in Dallas when the league began in 1967.  They were known as the Dallas Chaparrals for the first three seasons of the franchise’s history, before embracing Texas Chaparrals for one season in 1970-71 and played games in Dallas, Fort Worth and Lubbock. They then were known as the Dallas Chaparrals until 1973.

During the summer of the 1973, a group of San Antonio businessmen led by Angelo Drossos and Red McCombs negotiated a three-year deal to lease the Chaparrals and move the team to San Antonio. The ownership group consisting of 35 stockholders changed the name of the team to the Spurs.

Later that year, as support grew for the team, the stockholders arranged to purchase the team from the Dallas group and make San Antonio a permanent home. The Spurs played three seasons in the ABA before joining the NBA in 1976, along with the Nuggets, Pacers and Nets.

I was an old ABA fan from way back, watching the Memphis Pros/Tams/Sounds during my youth there. One of my spectating highlights of my youth centers around a fight I witnessed between bruising ABA forwards John Brisker of the Pittsburgh Condors and Wendell Ladner of the then Memphis Pros back in the day.

All of the NBA eams will be selling merchandise, which is good to keep the memory of the league alive.

But I’ve got a couple of questions.

First, why don’t the Spurs wear some of their own vintage ABA jerseys rather than honoring a Dallas team? Obviously, it’s the same franchise, but I am likely to believe from a marketing standpoint that the Spurs and the NBA stand a better chance selling more Spurs ABA gear to their current fans with the Spurs rather than those representing a Dallas-based team. Leave that for Mark Cuban and the crowd in Big D.

Because using the same rationale, it should be New Orleans celebrating the history of the old New Orleans Buccaneers, who eventually moved to Memphis in 1970 and became the Memphis ABA team. I’m sure the league has more pressing concerns in building support for their league-owned franchise than honoring some previous league there. But if they are truly honoring the ABA past, they should have New Orleans wearing Buccaneers jerseys — just like Doug Moe, Larry Brown and Red Robbins did before them.

And one more personal pet peeve. If the league is reaching back to the ABA to sell a few more jerseys and t-shirts, I certainly think the NBA can be big enough to honor the ABA records as part of its official history. The Spurs’ records don’t exist in the eyes of the NBA before they joined the league in 1976.

All of George Gervin’s points and Bobby Warren’s turnovers and Tom Nissalke’s victories with the team never happened, according to the NBA.  

The NFL accepted all of  the AFL’s past records when the merger between those two leagues was consummated.

If the NBA wants us to buy replicas of the jerseys that Billy Cunningham wore while he played for the Carolina Cougars, they are going to need to add those points he scored with them to the ones he tallied earlier and later in his  NBA career.

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