Friday Flashback: Kentucky Colonels

While most people think of fried chicken, the folks in Kentucky enjoyed having a professional basketball franchise in the American Basketball Association (ABA) from 1967-1976. The Colonels won the most games (448) and had the highest winning percentage (.602) of any other team in the league during their existence.

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 won their only championship in 1975 when they defeated the Indiana Pacers in five games. They were one of the ABA’s most consistent team as they won four division titles and qualified for the playoffs each season.

The most notable players for the Colonels were Dan Issel, Artis Gilmore and Louie Dampier. Issel played six seasons for the Colonels (1970-1975) then played for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1975-1985. He coached from 1992-1994 and then 1999-2001. Gilmore played for the Colonels from 1971-1976 and then played 12 seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics. Dampier played 10 seasons with the Colonels (1967-1976) before finish his career with the San Antonio Spurs (1976-1979).

Kentucky Colonel seasons:

  • 1967-1968
    • 36 wins, 42 losses
    • Lost to Minnesota Muskies in Eastern Division Semifinals (3 games to 2)
  • 1968-1969
    • 42 wins, 26 losses
    • Lost to Indiana Pacers in Eastern Division Semifinals (4 games to 3)
  • 1969-1970
    • 45 wins, 39 losses
    • Lost to Indiana Pacers in Eastern Division Finals (4 games to 1)
  • 1970-1971
    • 44 wins, 40 losses
    • Lost to Utah Stars in ABA Finals (4 games to 3)
  • 1971-1972
    • 68 wins, 16 losses
    • Lost to New York Nets in Eastern Division Semifinals (4 games to 2)
  • 1972-1973
    • 56 wins, 28 losses
    • Lost to Indiana Pacers in ABA Finals (4 games to 3)
  • 1973-1974
    • 53 wins, 31 losses
    • Lost to New York Nets in Eastern Division Finals (4 games to 0)
  • 1974-1975
    • 58 wins, 26 losses
    • Defeated Indiana Pacers in ABA Finals (4 games to 1)
  • 1975-1976
    • 46 wins, 38 losses
    • Lost to Denver Nuggets in ABA Semifinals (4 games to 3)

The Colonels played their last game on April 26, 1976 when they lost in Game 7 of the ABA semifinals to the Denver Nuggets, 133-110.

After the 1976 season, the ABA and NBA were deciding on a merger and which ABA teams would go over to the NBA. It was clear to everyone that the Colonels had the talent and the fan support to join the NBA for the 1976-77 season. However, during the merger negotiations in June 1976, the NBA made it clear that it would accept only four ABA teams, not five. With Denver, San Antonio, New York and Indiana being the clear front-runners to make the cut, Colonels’ owner John Y. Brown decided that it was better to fold the team for cash, instead of continuing to fight. To the great disappointment of long-time Colonels fans, Kentucky was left out of the merger.

Fans in Louisville would like to bring back the Colonels. The website #ColonelsComeBack is a grassroots effort organized to promote the return of the Kentucky Colonels to professional basketball. Supporters are passionate about basketball in this area, and wish to have their own team in the NBA.

For more reading and stories about the Kentucky Colonels, check out this book:

Obscure Sports Report


The Saskatchewan Rush remain unbeaten in the NLL


Let’s take a look at some alternative sports leagues that you won’t see in your local sports pages:

AMERICAN ULTIMATE DISC LEAGUE (AUDL) – The only professional ultimate disc league is going through some growing pains as teams have moved or folded during the offseason.  The latest move involved the Jacksonville Cannons who have moved to Tampa and will begin play there in the upcoming 2018 season.   The Nashville Nightwatch changed ownership in the offseason and plans to make some significant changes in the 2018 season.  A new franchise will be added in Portland, Oregon to play in the West Division.

MAJOR ARENA SOCCER LEAGUE (MASL) –  Here are the current league standings:

  • Eastern Division
    • Baltimore 10-2
    • Florida 6-6
    • Syracuse 5-5
    • Harrisburg 5-9
  • Central Division
    • Milwaukee 12-2
    • Cedar Rapids 6-8
    • Kansas City 4-8
    • St. Louis 2-11
  • Southwest Division
    • Monterrey 12-0
    • Sonora 6-6
    • El Paso 5-7
    • Rio Grande Valley 2-10
  • Pacific Division
    • San Diego 10-0
    • Ontario 6-6
    • Tacoma 6-7
    • Turlock 2-12

AMERICAN BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION (ABA) –  The Richmond (VA) Elite are atop the ABA Power Rankings with a record of 10-0.  They are followed by the Kentucky Enforcers (11-0), South Florida Gold (12-1), Jacksonville Giants (9-1) and Worcester 78s (10-1).

NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE (NLL) – The Saskatchewan Rush won the battle of the unbeatens when they defeated the Colorado Mammoths 17-12 in Denver.  The Rush took over sole possession of first place in the West at 4-0 while the New England Black Wolves lead the East at 3-1.

NATIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE (NWHL) – In their third meeting of the season, the Buffalo Beauts edged the Connecticut Whale 4-3 at a game played in Pittsburgh.  Buffalo’s Lisa Chesson scored her first goal of the season and the game winner with less than four minutes remaining.  The Beauts are now 5-4 and currently in second place behind the Metropolitan Riveters at 8-0.  With the loss, Connecticut drops to 2-7.

Obscure Sports Report


Atlanta’s Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team won their first game on Sunday when they blasted Minnesota 6-1 in a snow flurry in front of over 35,000 fans.  Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez scored a rare hat-trick while Miguel Almiron scored twice and Jacob Peterson scored once.  Atlanta dropped a 2-1 home opener to the New York Red Bulls a week ago in front of 55,000 fans.

The New England Black Wolves (5-6) became the first team in the Eastern Division to defeat the Georgia Swarm (7-3) on Sunday in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).   Shawn Evans and Kyle Buchanan each had three goals and four assists in a 13-8 win.  It was the fourth hat trick of the season for Evans.

Tony Spredeman of the United States is at the top of the World Foosball Player rankings.   He is first in Open Combined and Open Singles rankings.  He is also second in Open Doubles.   Spredeman is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has won several World Championships.

The Baltimore Blast are looking at elimination from the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) playoffs.  They were upset by the Harrisburg Heat 5-4 on Saturday in Baltimore.  The Milwaukee Wave edged the Kansas City Comets 3-2 when Marcio Leite scored the series winner 2:26 into overtime of the mini-game to win their series 2 games to 1 and advance to the MASL semifinals.   Sonora blasted Baja 17-3 in game two on Saturday to complete their sweep of the Southwest Division final.  In the Pacific Division, the San Diego Sockers beat Ontario 9-4 in the first game of their series, Ontario evened the series with an 8-4 win to force a mini-game.  The Sockers scored nine seconds into the tie-breaker and held on to advance to the league semifinals.

The Boston Pride finished the regular season in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) with the best record at 16-1.  New York finished second at 8-7-3, Buffalo Beauts third (6-10-1) and the Connecticut Whale (5-12-1).  All four teams qualify for the Isobel Cup Playoffs which begins on Thursday and Friday.   Winners will advance to the final on Sunday, March 19th.

The DMV Warriors, based out of Woodlawn, Maryland, leads the American Basketball Association (ABA) power rankings with a record of 18-0.   The Jacksonville Giants (20-2), Orlando Waves (17-2), Austin Bats (15-1) and Mobile Bay Tornados (14-1) finish out the top five.   The league was founded in 1999 as a nationwide semi-pro basketball league.  The Jacksonville Giants are the defending league champions.

The Wichita Falls Nighthawks defeated the Cedar Rapids Titans this weekend, 42-23, to remain undefeated in the Indoor Football League (IFL).  Quarterback Charles McCullum finished the game completing 20 of 30 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.  The Nighthawks will have the week off before they face the six-time defending United Bowl Champions, Sioux Falls Storm.

In the second week of playoffs in the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League, the stakes were huge as teams battled to advance to the quarterfinals.  Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Wesley So (St. Louis) and Fabiano Caruana (Montreal) were all in tight battles by lesser-known opponents.  Hikaru Nakamura (Miami) had one of the worst chess days of his life, scoring 1.5/4 and losing in a do-or-die final round.   In this week’s quarterfinal round:  Norway Gnomes vs. Gorky Stormbringers, Montclair Sopranos vs. Miami Champions, Marseille Migraines vs. Stockholm Snowballs and Webster Windmills vs. St. Louis Arch Bishops.

Have a sport you’d like me to write about next week?  Leave me a comment and I will post it next Wednesday.