Washington Caps

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For the current NHL team, see Washington Capitals. For the old BAA team, see Washington Capitols.

The Washington Caps were an American Basketball Association team from 1969 through 1970. The franchise had previously been the Oakland Oaks. From 1970 through 1976 the team played as the Virginia Squires.

Origins[edit]

With the formation of the ABA in February 1967 a team was awarded to Oakland, California for $30,000 with singer Pat Boone as primary owner. The team was originally the Oakland Americans but the name was eventually changed to the Oakland Oaks. NBA star Rick Barry signed with the Oaks, as did Steve Jones and Levern Tart. Barry, however, was prevented from playing in the ABA due to a lawsuit brought by his former NBA team (regarding enforcement of the reserve clause in his contract), so he spent the season as the Oaks' radio announcer instead of as a player. The Oaks won the very first ABA game in 1967 (a 132-129 victory against the Anaheim Amigos on October 3, 1967) and the Oaks breezed through the 1969 ABA Playoffs and won the 1969 ABA Championship over the Indiana Pacers. However, the Bank of America was threatening to foreclose on a $1.2 million loan to the team and in August 1969 a group of Washington, DC investors led by Earl Foreman bought the team and moved it to Washington for the upcoming season.

1969-1970 season[edit]

With the move came a new identity for the team as the green and gold clad Washington Caps. Al Bianchi was the team's coach. A federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Caps regarding Rick Barry's contract. Barry and Warren Armstrong both played in the ABA All Star game but injuries limited their playing time for the season.

In March 1970 the ABA-NBA merger appeared close at hand under conditions that would have required the Washington Caps to relocate, but a subsequent lawsuit derailed the merger until June 1976.

The Caps were kept in the Western Division despite their move to the eastern seaboard. This kept them constantly on the road at far away venues and the travel and time differential took its toll on their play. Playing at Washington Coliseum their average attendance was 2,992 fans per game. Due to the long travel distances involved in divisional play, the Caps played some home games in places like Wichita, Kansas and even Mexico City, Mexico but did not fare well in those supposed home games. They had good results in their real home games, played at the Washington Coliseum.

The Caps finished the season with 44 wins and 40 losses. The Caps' record put them in third place in the Western Division, 7 games behind the Denver Rockets and 1 game behind the Dallas Chaparrals. In the 1970 ABA Playoffs The Caps faced the Denver Rockets in the Western Division semifinals and took the series to seven games before losing 143-119 in the finale in Denver.

Virginia Squires[edit]

After the conclusion of the 1969-1970 season the Caps moved south and became the Virginia Squires. The Squires would continue to play in every ABA season through 1976. At the conclusion of the 1975-1976 season the Squires, having fallen on hard times, were unable to make a league-mandated financial assessment. The Squires were disbanded after the season but just prior to the ABA-NBA merger in June 1976.

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