The Q's started as an ABA expansion franchise in 1972–73. They played at Peterson Gym on the campus of San Diego State University during their initial season. Owner Leonard Bloom had hoped to move his new team into the 14,000 seat San Diego Sports Arena, but Bloom had a feud with Arena proprietor Peter Graham, as Graham had attempted to secure the ABA franchise himself. This forced the Q's to play at 3,200 seat Golden Hall. After signing 7-foot-1-inch-tall Chamberlain to serve as a player-coach, the team used the advertising slogan "Tallest Coach in the Smallest Arena." 
Wilt Chamberlain and Leonard Bloom in 1973. Chamberlain was to join the Q's as a player-coach. The Los Angeles Lakers challenged the signing and Chamberlain was unable to play for the Q's. He did remain as coach.
Bloom lured Chamberlain from the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers for a reported $600,000 and then attempted to build the team a new arena. Ultimately, Chamberlain was not allowed to be a player for San Diego, as the Lakers sued for violation of contract, leaving Chamberlain as Head Coach only. Then, on November 7, 1973, Bloom's 20,000 seat $200 million arena in Chula Vista narrowly failed in a special referendum. Chamberlain reportedly had refused to campaign for the arena project. "If I have to go there, they can't want it very much," he said.
After the arena referendum failed, the ABA directed Bloom to look at moving the team to Los Angeles. However, Bloom and Graham then reached agreement to move the team from Golden Hall. Following the 1973–74 season, the Q's finally moved to the San Diego Sports Arena. Chamberlain retired after his one season as Q's coach and did not move with the team. The team struggled and had low attendance at the new arena. Following the 1974–75 season, Bloom sold the team to Frank Goldberg. After changing their name to the San Diego Sails and starting the 1975-76 season with a 3–8 record, the franchise folded. Low attendance and a bleak future led to Goldberg's decision on November 12, 1975.