If you have followed my sports column over the years, you may have read some of the stories about the old American Basketball Association.
I was a huge fan of ABA which included the Louisville-based Kentucky Colonels. The colorful league had featured a couple of radical innovations – a three-point field goal (which at the time did not exist in the NBA or college basketball) and the red-white-blue “beach” ball. The Colonels were my favorite pro basketball team. And I loved them even before two UK stars — Dan Issel and Mike Pratt — joined the franchise in 1970. I didn’t like the well-established NBA very well with that ugly black-looking ball on a black-and-white TV set.
My interest in the Colonels and ABA began when I was in the sixth or seventh grade. Ex-Wildcat Louie Dampier starred with the Colonels during the pre-Issel era, pumping those long three-point jumpers. While Issel was reaping All-American honors during his senior year at UK, my parents, my friend and I traveled to Louisville — a three-hour trip one way — to see the Colonels, who were hosting the Miami Floridians at the 6,000-seat Convention Center. I remember that 1969 game well because it was the first time I had seen the Colonels play in person. Before a crowd of 3,000, Kentucky defeated the Floridians 115-111 behind 6-9 forward Gene Moore’s 28 points and 22 rebounds with Dampier getting 24 points.
By the way, in addition to the covers of two recently-published books, below are some "amateur" pictures the columnist had taken as a young faithful fan of ABA's Kentucky Colonels during the old days. The pictures include Wally Rooney (official), Artis Gilmore, Bob Leonard (Indiana coach), K.C. Jones (San Diego coach), Dan Issel (talking with Van Vance), Larry Brown (Carolina coach), and Babe McCarthy (Kentucky coach).
Click on photo for larger viewing