The Info List - Spirits Of St. Louis

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The Spirits of St. Louis
St. Louis
were one of two teams still in existence at the end of the American Basketball Association
American Basketball Association
(ABA) that did not survive the ABA–NBA merger. They were a member of the ABA in its last two seasons, 1974–75 and 1975–76, while playing their home games at the St. Louis
St. Louis


1 History 2 NBA Merger 3 Documentary 4 Season by season 5 References 6 External links

History[edit] The Spirits (who took their name from the Atlantic Ocean-crossing plane flown by Charles Lindbergh) were the third incarnation of a franchise that began as the Houston Mavericks and later the Carolina Cougars. However, only a few players from the 1973–74 Cougars followed the team to St. Louis, so the Spirits were essentially an expansion team. The Spirits were a colorful team featuring a number of players, both on and off the court, who were fairly successful in their basketball careers. Among them were Moses Malone, acquired during their second and final season, who went on to a long and successful career in the NBA, culminating in enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Maurice Lucas spent most of his time in the ABA as a Spirit, then later became an all-star in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers. Other well-known players that played for the team included former Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
sixth man Don Chaney, future Celtics head coach M.L. Carr, and Ron Boone, who held the record for consecutive games played in pro basketball for many years. One of the most colorful players on the team was forward Marvin Barnes, famous for stories about his off-court behavior and lack of understanding of time zones. A couple of off-court personalities from the team became well known as well. One of the coaches in 1975 was former NBA player Rod Thorn, who became the NBA's vice president of basketball operations (in essence, the league's chief disciplinarian and the number-two man behind commissioner David Stern) for a number of years. On radio, the team featured Bob Costas
Bob Costas
as its play-by-play announcer on KMOX. Costas would go on to a highly successful career working for NBC
television and radio. After a slow start in their inaugural season, 1974–75, the Spirits reached the playoffs with a late rush, then upset the defending ABA champion New York Nets
New York Nets
in the first round of the playoffs. But the team squandered this good start the following year. Despite inheriting several players (including Malone) from the Utah Stars
Utah Stars
after that franchise failed in the middle of the season, the Spirits finished well out of playoff contention in 1975–76. Attendance in St. Louis fell through the floor; they were lucky to draw crowds of more than 1,000 people in an 18,000-seat arena, and frequently drew "crowds" in the hundreds. At season's end, negotiations were under way to move the franchise to Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
as the Utah Rockies. NBA Merger[edit] In the summer of 1976, with the ABA at the point of financial collapse, the six surviving franchises (the Virginia Squires
Virginia Squires
went bankrupt immediately after the final season) began negotiating a merger with the NBA. But the senior circuit decided to accept only four teams from the rival league: the Nets (the last ABA champion), Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers
and San Antonio Spurs. The NBA placated John Y. Brown, owner of the Kentucky Colonels, by giving him a $3.3 million settlement in exchange for shutting his team down. (Brown later used much of that money to buy the Buffalo Braves of the NBA.) But the owners of the Spirits, the brothers Ozzie and Daniel Silna, struck a prescient deal to acquire future television money from the teams that joined the NBA, a 1/7 share from each franchise (or nearly 2% of the entire NBA's TV money), in perpetuity. With network TV deals becoming more and more lucrative, the deal has made the Silnas wealthy, earning them $186 million as of 2008, according to the Cleveland
Plain Dealer, and $255 million as of 2012 according to The New York Times.[1] (The NBA nearly succeeded in buying out the Silnas in 1982 by offering $5 million over eight years, but negotiations stalled when the siblings demanded $8 million over five.) On June 27, 2007, it was extended for another 8 years, ensuring another $100 million+ windfall for the Silnas. In 2014, the Silnas reached agreement with the NBA to greatly reduce the perpetual payments and take a lump sum of $500 million. In the last few years before the lump sum agreement, the Silnas were receiving $14.57 million a year, despite being owners of a team that hadn't played one minute of basketball in more than 35 years. The Silnas will, however, still be receiving a now much smaller portion of the television revenue through a new partnership with the former ABA teams the Nets, Nuggets, Pacers and Spurs.[2] Documentary[edit] On October 8, 2013, ESPN
presented a documentary about the team, Free Spirits, as part of its 30 for 30
30 for 30
series. Part of the show contained the fact that the Silnas had been suing the NBA for "hundreds of millions of dollars more" they feel the NBA owes them, presumably for NBA League Pass
NBA League Pass
subscriptions and streaming video (the Silnas dropped the suit when the NBA bought their rights out). As a result, – and on the advice of their attorneys – the Silnas refused to be interviewed for the program, directed by Daniel Forer. However, many players, members of management, and Costas – among others – shared their memories of the franchise. Season by season[edit]

ABA Champions ABA Finals Appearance Division Champions Playoff Berth

Season League Division Regular Season Postseason Results

Finish Wins Losses Pct.

Houston Mavericks

1967–68 ABA Western 4th 29 49 .372 Lost Division Semifinals (Dallas, 0-3)

1968–69 ABA Western 6th 23 55 .295

Carolina Cougars

1969–70 ABA Eastern 3rd 42 42 .500 Lost Division Semifinals (Indiana, 0-4)

1970–71 ABA Eastern 6th 34 50 .405

Carolina Cougars

1971–72 ABA Eastern 5th 35 49 .417

1972–73 ABA Eastern 1st 57 27 .679 Won Division Semifinals (NY Nets, 4-1) Lost Division Finals (Kentucky, 3-4)

1973–74 ABA Eastern 3rd 47 37 .560 Lost Division Semifinals (Kentucky, 0-4)

Spirits of St. Louis

1974–75 ABA Eastern 3rd 32 52 .381 Won Division Semifinals (NY Nets, 4-1) Lost Division Finals (Kentucky, 1-4)

1975–76 ABA

6th 35 49 .417

Regular Season 334 410 .449 1967–1976

Playoffs 12 18 .400 1967–1976


^ Sandomir, Richard (September 7, 2012). "No Team, No Ticket Sales, but Plenty of Cash Former A.B.A. Owners Ozzie and Daniel Silna Earn Millions From N.B.A." The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2018.  ^ Aschburner, Steve (January 9, 2014). "NBA SETTLES 'PERPETUITY' DEAL WITH FORMER OWNERS OF ABA SPIRITS". National Basketball Association. Retrieved January 26, 2018. 

External links[edit]

Spirits of St. Louis
St. Louis
history from RememberTheABA.com 1975-76 Spirits of St. Louis
St. Louis
Official Program "The TV Deal the NBA Wishes It Had Not Made," Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2006 "From the Annals of NBA Business," The Plain Dealer, Feb. 7, 2009

v t e

American Basketball Association
American Basketball Association

Anaheim Amigos/Los Angeles Stars (1967–70) Baltimore Claws (1975) Carolina Cougars
Carolina Cougars
(1969–74) Dallas Chaparrals/Texas Chaparrals (1967–73) Denver Rockets/ Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets
(1967–76) Houston Mavericks (1967–69) Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers
(1967–76) Kentucky Colonels
Kentucky Colonels
(1967–76) Memphis Pros/Memphis Tams/ Memphis Sounds (1970–75) Miami Floridians/The Floridians (1968–72) Minnesota Muskies (1967–68) Minnesota Pipers
Minnesota Pipers
(1968–69) New Jersey Americans/ New York Nets
New York Nets
(1967–76) New Orleans Buccaneers (1967–70) Oakland Oaks (1967–69) Pittsburgh Pipers/Condors (1967–68; 1969–72) San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs
(1973–76) San Diego Conquistadors/Sails (1972–75) Spirits of St. Louis
St. Louis
(1974–76) Utah Stars
Utah Stars
(1970–75) Virginia Squires
Virginia Squires
(1970–76) Washington Caps
Washington Caps