The BUFFALO BRAVES were an American professional basketball franchise
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
John Y. Brown, Jr. swapped franchises with then-Boston Celtics
Irv Levin , who then moved the team to
* 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
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.
The Braves repeated their 22–60 record in the 1971–72 season, but
did make good acquisitions that would make the club better. Buffalo
Elmore Smith from
Kentucky State University
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS DIVISION CHAMPIONS PLAYOFF BERTH
SEASON TEAM LEAGUE CONFERENCE DIVISION REGULAR SEASON POST-SEASON RESULTS
CONF. FINISH DIV. FINISH WINS LOSSES WIN% GB
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
Lost Conference Semifinals to
1974–75 1974–75 NBA Eastern Atlantic 3rd 2nd 49 33 .598 11 Lost Conference Semifinals to Washington Bullets , 3–4
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".