Minnesota Muskies

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Minnesota Muskies
Founded 1967
Conference None
Division Eastern Division
Team history
  • Minnesota Muskies
    1967–1968
  • Miami Floridians
    1968–1970
  • The Floridians
    1970–1972
Based in Bloomington, Minnesota
Arena Met Center
Colors Yellow and Blue
         
Owner(s)
  • L.P. Shields & Fred Jefferson
    1968-1969
  • Ned Doyle
    1970
Head coach Jim Pollard

The Minnesota Muskies was a member of the American Basketball Association, born with the league's creation on February 2, 1967. L.P. Shields and Fred Jefferson were the owners after paying a franchise fee of $30,000. The team then played one season in Minnesota before moving to Miami, Florida to become The Floridians. The team colors were blue and gold and games were played in the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.[1]

History[edit]

The ABA first located its league office in Minneapolis, MN and the future looked bright for the Muskies, who shared the same offices as the league. Their first draft pick was talented center Mel Daniels, who would go on to become one of the ABA's most celebrated players. Daniels was also a first round draft pick of the NBA's Cincinnati Royals, but he decided to cast his lot with the upstart league. The selection of Daniels paid off for the team as he led the league in field goal attempts, field goals made, offensive and defensive rebounds and was named the league's Rookie of the Year.[2] Daniels, Donnie Freeman and Les Hunter all represented the Muskies in the first ABA All Star Game and shooting guard Ron Perry finished fifth in the league in three point field goals made and attempted and fourth in three point field goal percentage. The head coach was Jim Pollard, a former teammate of ABA Commissioner George Mikan from their days with the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers.

Early in the league's first season the Muskies and the Indiana Pacers dueled for first place in the Eastern Division. Although, the Muskies pulled away from the Pacers, the Pittsburgh Pipers rallied to eventually win the Eastern Division title by four games.[3] The Muskies would finish the season with a record of 50 wins and 28 losses and averaged 2,473 fans per home game. However, this figure may have been exaggerated as the team had only 100 season ticket holders

In the Eastern Division semifinals, the Muskies split the first four of five games with the Kentucky Colonels and then won the decisive Game Five, 114–108, at home. The Muskies then met the Pipers for the Eastern Division Championship and lost 4 games to 1 to the eventual champion.

For their success on the court, the Muskies were a complete bust off the court. They lost an estimated $400,000 in their first and only season. They only averaged 2,800 people per game, but it might have been far less, given that they only sold 100 season tickets.[4] The Muskies' management sought to make changes for the upcoming 1968-69 season with the team planning to play nine of their home games at other locations in Minnesota and signed a favorable television contract. In spite of this, the owners decided to relocate the franchise to Miami on May 24, 1968 for the 1968-69 ABA season. Prior to the start of that season, the team was forced to sell Daniels to the Indiana Pacers for cash to pay off accumulated debts.

However, Minnesota was not left without an ABA team as league champion Pipers ironically relocated to Minneapolis to play as the Minnesota Pipers for the 1968–69 ABA season.[5] The franchise would move back to Pittsburgh after one season in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Timberwolves wore Muskies uniforms for 6 games during the 2011-12 NBA season as part of the NBA's "Hardwood Classics".[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]