The Info List - Buffalo Braves

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The BUFFALO BRAVES were an American professional basketball franchise based in Buffalo, New York . The Braves competed in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league's Eastern Conference Atlantic Division from 1970 until 1978. In 1978, Braves owner John Y. Brown, Jr. swapped franchises with then-Boston Celtics owner Irv Levin , who then moved the team to San Diego
San Diego
, where it was renamed the San Diego
San Diego
Clippers. The franchise moved to Los Angeles
Los Angeles
in 1984, and is now known as the Los Angeles Clippers .


* 1 History

* 1.1 Play begins * 1.2 Initial hiring

* 1.3 Season-by-season summary

* 1.3.1 1971–72 season * 1.3.2 1972–73 & 1973–74 seasons * 1.3.3 1974–75 in addition to alleviating the auditorium's scheduling issues, the Braves also played internationally in the hopes of expanding their fan base beyond Western New York
Western New York
and into the Greater Toronto
Area (a similar strategy was employed by the National Football League
National Football League
(NFL)'s Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
from 2008 until 2013 ). The NBA had two previous teams in Western New York
Western New York
, the Rochester Royals and the Syracuse Nationals .


The team's first head coach was Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes and the franchise's first star players were Bob Kauffman and Don May , who were acquired in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft . However, in the NBA Draft of 1970 , Buffalo passed on hometown hero Calvin Murphy , a 5-foot-9 point guard from Niagara University and picked Princeton graduate, John Hummer , as their first round draft pick. Murphy would eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As is typical of first-year expansion teams, the Braves finished with a dismal record, 22–60, seven games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers , their expansion cousins, who finished at 15–67. Kauffman, who averaged 4.3 points per game the previous year with the Chicago Bulls , led Buffalo in scoring with 20.4 points per game and earned a spot on the 1971 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team.


1971–72 Season

The Braves repeated their 22–60 record in the 1971–72 season, but did make good acquisitions that would make the club better. Buffalo drafted center Elmore Smith from Kentucky State University
Kentucky State University
and local favorite Randy Smith from Buffalo State College . Johnny McCarthy replaced Schayes one game into the season as the team's head coach.

1972–73 "> Ernie DiGregorio was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1973–74 after leading the NBA in assists and free throw percentage.

The team did slightly worse in the 1972–73 season, as it went 21–61 under new head coach Dr. Jack Ramsay . In a showcase of the futility of the '72-'73 Braves, during the team's fifth game of the season on October 20, 1972 the team set an NBA record which still stands for most points in a single quarter with 58, and still managed to lose to the Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
126-118. The Braves' big move that season was drafting forward/center Bob McAdoo from North Carolina . The team finally made its first playoff appearance in 1974 , in which they faced the Celtics and lost in six games. That season, McAdoo posted averages of 30.6 points and 15.1 rebounds ; this is the last time any player has averaged at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in the same NBA season. Also, that season, the Braves rookie Ernie DiGregorio won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award .

1974–75 "> Bob McAdoo (11) was the NBA MVP in the 1974–75 season after averaging 34.5 points per game and 14.1 rebounds per game.

In 1974–75 , McAdoo was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award , averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds. and 2.12 blocks per game, while shooting 51.2% from the field and 80.5% from the free-throw line. The Braves made trips to the playoffs in both 1974–75 and 1975–76 , the latter of which would be their last playoff berth playing in Buffalo.

1976–77 Season

The Braves by this point were a modest success, both on the court and off; the team was drawing close to the league average in fans, had solid broadcasting ratings and was turning a consistent profit. Even so, by 1976 Snyder was facing severe pressure to sell the team and get it out of Buffalo. In a 2016 interview, Snyder laid particular blame on Father James Demske, who represented the Canisius Golden Griffins men\'s basketball team; Demske believed that the Braves posed a threat to the Little Three rivalry in college basketball, then in the waning days of its peak, and was making it purposely difficult for the Braves to get good home dates at the auditorium. This in turn angered the NBA, who pressured Snyder to resolve the issue in short order. At the time, Snyder's more public feuds were with the Sabres, who represented Buffalo's old money circuit compared to the more nouveau riche status of Snyder; he later attributed these feuds to his own inexperience with sports ownership and now speaks in more conciliatory tones regarding his hockey competition.

The June 15, 1976 issue of Buffalo's Courier-Express blasted the headline "Braves Go to Florida, Leaving 'Hockey Town'". Snyder had a handshake deal to sell the team for $6.1 million to hotel owner Irving Cowan, who would move the Braves to the Hollywood Sportatorium outside of Miami, Florida . However, the city of Buffalo filed a $10 million damage suit to block the move. The sale eventually fell through and the Braves and the city signed a new 15-year Memorial Auditorium lease in July with a provision that the lease could be voided if the team did not sell 5,000 season tickets in any season. Later that summer, Snyder finally sold 50% of the franchise to businessman John Y. Brown, Jr. , who had previously owned the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Brown later acquired the remaining half from Snyder sometime in the 1976–77 season and resold that share to another businessman, Harry T. Mangurian, Jr.

Brown and Mangurian proceeded to dismantle the Braves. Ramsay, unwilling to have his career hurt by the change in ownership, left for the Portland Trail Blazers . A provision in the team sale agreement stipulated that if Brown sold the contract of any Braves player, then the money would go to Snyder and the purchase price would be reduced. This subsequently occurred when the Braves sent McAdoo to the New York Knicks for players and cash midway through the 1976–77 season. Before the first game in the 1976–77 season the Braves also managed to acquire eventual Hall-of-Fame center Moses Malone
Moses Malone
from Portland. However, after just two games in which he played a total of six minutes, he too was traded; he was sent to Houston for two draft picks. He would finish the season in Houston averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds while only two years later winning his first of three MVP Awards. The Braves would go through four head coaches in the next two seasons: Tates Locke , Bob MacKinnon , Joe Mullaney (formerly coach of the Colonels) and Cotton Fitzsimmons .

1977–78 Season

The team's poor play in its final two years (30–52 in 1976–77 and 27–55 in 1977–78 ) and the overt attempts to break the lease on Memorial Auditorium drove attendance down below the threshold that would have been needed to break the lease. John Y. Brown met with Irv Levin , who then owned the Celtics, and negotiated a deal in which the owners would swap franchises, with Brown taking control of the Celtics and Levin getting the Braves. Levin was a California
businessman, and wanted to own an NBA team in his native state. However, he knew the NBA would not even consider letting him move the Celtics. He was therefore very receptive to Brown's offer. The deal was brokered by NBA general counsel David Stern , who became the league's commissioner in 1984. Following what would be the Braves' final season in Western New York , the NBA owners voted 21–1 to let the team relocate. As Levin wanted, he became owner of a team in San Diego
San Diego
after the 1977–78 season , which became the San Diego
San Diego
(now Los Angeles) Clippers . As part of the transaction, the teams traded most of the players on their rosters. It could therefore be argued that the successor to the Braves franchise are the Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics


For the franchise's first season (1970–71) team colors were blue, red home white uniforms featured lettering and striping in only red & gold, with road uniforms being blue, also with red they continued with these uniforms until the team was moved to California
. (Despite the new color scheme, the logo – which no longer appeared on the uniforms – remained the black and orange "feather B").


For most of the team's existence, WBEN (930 AM) was the radio home of the Buffalo Braves, with Van Miller on play-by-play. Miller also called play-by-play on the team's telecasts over WBEN-TV (channel 4, now WIVB-TV ), the local CBS television affiliate. Snyder claimed that the Braves broadcasts were drawing far higher ratings than the Sabres' at the time and insisted that if he had managed to keep the Braves in Buffalo, the Sabres would have been the team eventually forced to move out of the city.





1970–71 1970–71 NBA Eastern Atlantic 7th 4th 22 60 .268 30

1971–72 1971–72 NBA Eastern Atlantic 8th 4th 22 60 .268 34

1972–73 1972–73 NBA Eastern Atlantic 7th 3rd 21 61 .256 47

1973–74 1973–74 NBA Eastern Atlantic 4th 3rd 42 40 .512 14 Lost Conference Semifinals to Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
, 2–4

1974–75 1974–75 NBA Eastern Atlantic 3rd 2nd 49 33 .598 11 Lost Conference Semifinals to Washington Bullets , 3–4

1975–76 1975–76 NBA Eastern Atlantic 5th 2nd 46 36 .561 8 WON First Round vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers
, 2–1 Lost Conference Semifinals to Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
, 2–4

1976–77 1976–77 NBA Eastern Atlantic 10th 4th 30 52 .366 20

1977–78 1977–78 NBA Eastern Atlantic 10th 4th 27 55 .329 28


* ^ "NBA History: Teams". National Basketball Association. February 25, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2017. * ^ "NBA.com/Stats–LA Clippers seasons". National Basketball Association. Retrieved June 10, 2016. * ^ "Braves Quick Facts". Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Clippers. Retrieved January 31, 2016. * ^ A B C D Gleason, Bucky (April 22, 2016). "How the Braves came to Buffalo -- and why they left". The Buffalo News. Retrieved April 22, 2016. * ^ Buffery, Steve (2004-11-03). "The road was paved". Toronto
Sun . Retrieved 2013-10-08. * ^ " Buffalo Braves
Buffalo Braves
1971–72 Game Log and Scores". Archived from the original on 2006-05-24. Retrieved 2008-02-28. * ^ Kulyk, Andrew (April 24, 2016). The Buffalo Braves
Buffalo Braves
Saga: Do Not Lionize Paul Snyder. Artvoice. Retrieved April 24, 2016. * ^ Fink, James (April 28, 2014). Paul Snyder remembers ex-Braves coach Ramsey. Business First. Retrieved April 28, 2014. * ^ A B Peter May (22 May 2012). "Freaky Friday, N.B.A. Style: When the Clippers Were the Celtics".