At the races

4 Fun Facts About the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers were founded in 1967. That was a crazy year. That year the Smothers Brothers comedy show premiered on CBS, and employed a young writer named Steve Martin. Steve Martin became a star in the basketball comedy, “Pacertown Punk,” the story of a star Pacer rookie with a heart of gold who can’t break away from his criminal past of boosting golf carts from local courses.

The Pacers were a founding member of the American Basketball Association and joined the National Basketball Association in 1976 when those two leagues emerged. The other ABA teams to join the NBA included the Denver Nuggets, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs. The NBA made the ABA teams pay an expansion fee of more than $3 million. One Pacers fan said, “I pay an expansion fee, too. Everytime I have a bag of donuts, my waist expands another six inches. So far my expansion fees total a 75-inch waist.”

While the Pacers were in the ABA, they won three championships. That’s kind of like being the best comedian in Cold Lake, Iowa. There isn’t a lot of competition. In fact, in Cold Lake, Iowa, the only comedian is Johnny Kornpone. Johnny Kornpone is famous for his catchphrase. “What? You’ve never milked a cow? Well, jibber, jibber, jibber!”

The Pacers have several players in the Hall of Fame: Alex English in 1997, Adrian Dantley in 2008, Gus Johnson in 2010, Chris Mullin in 2011, Mel Daniels in 2012, Reggie Miller in 2012, and Roger Brown in 2013. Rick Smits, the Dunking Dutchman, was also in the Hall of Fame. Not the NBA Hall of Fame, but the Tallest Players in the NBA Hall of Fame. At 7 foot four, he anchored the Pacers from 1988-2000. He is the highest paid Dutch athlete ever. The second highest paid Dutch player is Pim van Hop, a soccer player who would hop like a Kangaroo every time he score a goal.

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks basketball club started life in 1946 as the Buffalo Bisons. 1946 was a wild year. The Buffalo Bisons football team was also founded in 1946, and also were originally called the Bisons. What, two teams in one town with the same name? It was actually common in those days to name a Buffalo sports team “The Bisons.”

A fan remembers: “Yes, it was confusing as hell. Someone would say, ‘Are you going to the Bisons game?’, and you would say, ‘Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, curling, Olympic decathlon or checkers?'”

The Buffalo Bisons struggled to gain fans, and were only in town for 38 days when the GM, Leo Ferris, decided to move the team to the Tri-Cities area, which consists of Davenport, Iowa; Rock Island, Illinois; and Moline, Illinois. Upon hearing the news that the team would be moving to the Tri-Cities, each and every team member said, “What the hell is a Tri-Cities?”

But the Tri-Cities is noteworthy because that is where they changed the name to Blackhawks. The Blackhawks then became one of the original founding teams of the NBA when it formed in 1949. It wasn’t long before they moved to Milwaukee as the Hawks. A basketball expert explained, “First they were the Blackhawks, then the Hawks. It’s kind of like how Kanye West became Kanye, then Kimye. Pretty soon he will be a symbol: The Artist Formerly Known for Recording Good Music.”

At the races

Things You Should Know About the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder basketball club was founded in 1967 when the team was the Seattle Supersonics, who debuted with the NBA that year as an expansion team along with the San Diego Rockets, now the Houston Rockets. The Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City as the Thunder in 2008. 2008 was a crazy year — that year Boston College beat Notre Dame in what is known as the “College Football Holy War.” A fan at the game commented, “They sell holy water in bottles. That’s right. They sell bottled holy water at this game. What’s next? Priests taking confession on the bench for players shaving points? Come on now.”

The Thunder play at Chesapeake Energy Arena. An arena official said, “We can seat 17,000 for hockey, 18,000 for basketball, and 217,000 for the annual Oklahoma Farmer Hat Trading Show.”

“Every year I can’t wait for the Farmer Hat Trading Show,” one fan said. “Last year I traded my 1947 John Deere retro hat for 2 1963 Caterpillar tiller blade hats. I wear one to work and one to church.”

The New Orleans Hornets temporarily played games at the Chesapeake Arena after Hurricane Katrina. The strong fan support for Hornets game was partly why the league was convinced it would be a great market to move the Supersonics to. “Yes, it’s true, a league official said. “We like Oklahoma City because they love basketball. Also, there’s very little else to do. Around here for excitement, they drive to Pottawatomie county, get ice cream and try to drive back before it all melts.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers basketball club was founded in 1970. That was a crazy year. That same year, they staged the second Atlanta International Pop Festival, which had anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 people in attendance. One fan said, “Or, if Trump was there, he’d say there was 5.7 million people.”

The Clippers franchise started out as the expansion Buffalo Braves. The Braves moved around a bit and landed in San Diego in 1978 where they were called the San Diego Clippers. They picked up again and headed north to LA in 1984. Like many expansion teams, they didn’t do real well for a long time, and only began really winning consistently when Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and others joined the team. “I didn’t do real well my first years either,” a Clippers fan said. “I was a virgin until I was 37, and that only changed because the lady who cuts my hair took pity on me.”

At home, the Clippers use Staples Center, as do the LA Lakers, LA Kings, and LA Sparks. A Staples Center spokesperson said, “It’s expensive to have all these teams here. But we save money where we can — for example, after every Kings game, we bust up the ice into cubes and use them for drinks in the private sky boxes.

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks were founded in 1968. The owners held a fan contest to name the team. More than 40,000 fans, which was more than the entire city of Milwaukee in those days, voted for the name Robins, the state bird. But the owners went with the second-place entry, Bucks, referring to the white-tailed deer, plentiful in the state. One fan remembers, “We went crazy. They had a fan vote. We voted. Robins won. What do they do? They go with the second best choice. It was kind of like the 2016 Presidential election.”

Herb Kohl owned the bucks for many years. He bought the team in 1985 for $18 million, and sold it 29 years later for $550 million. “I did the same thing, well on a smaller scale. I bought a set of 1963 Ben Hogan irons in 1985 for $135, and sold them in 2014 for $155.”

The Bucks have won one league title, in 1971. What, you say? The Bucks won the NBA league title in 1971, and they started up in 1968? Is that possible? Hard to believe, but they did it. For two reasons. Lew Alcindor, who you may better know as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Oscar “Big O” Robertson, who helped the team finish 66-16 in their third season, an amazing turnaround from their start at 26 wins and 56 losses. One fan said, “I had a remarkable turnaround once. My first date with Thelma, well, we accidentally drove off the road through a fence on the Stinson’s farm into a giant cow pie. She didn’t talk to me for 3 year. Then I seen her over at the Esso station last year, and long story short, we’re getting married next week — at Stinson’s farm.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Houston Rockets

Did you know the Houston Rockets started out in San Diego? The San Diego Rockets were a 1967 NBA expansion team. 1967 was a a crazy year. That year the Rolling Stones released “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” A rock historian said, “Later that year they released, ‘No, I Don’t Have Time for Breakfast With You.'”

Like many new teams, they didn’t fare well, only winning 15 games that first season. Things picked up in 1968 when they drafted Elvin Hayes, who took them to their first playoff appearance. After 16 years in the NBA, Hayes returned to the University of Houston to finish the last few credits he had left for his degree. One professor asked, “Where have you been? You said you were going to make a phone call, and you disappeared for 16 years!”

Things really improved for the Rockets when they picked up Moses Malone in 1976, who took them to the conference finals that season. Malone was first drafted in 1974 with the Utah Stars, the first team in the league to employ the pre-game shootaround. One basketball expert explained: “Before that, the players just sat on lawn chairs on the court, sipping Cokes and watching reruns of “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs began life as the Dallas Chapparals in the ABA in 1967 before moving to San Antonio as the Spurs in 1973. Now, that was an interesting year. That year, the Philadephia Flyers scored an amazing eight goals in one period against the Islanders. One fan said, “They were all scoring, every player. I think even the Zamoboni driver scored a goal.”

The Spurs became a part of the NBA with the NBA/ ABA merger in 1976. 1976 was also a crazy year. That year the US performed a nuclear bomb test at a site in Nevada. “The biggest bomb since then was 2011’s Mars Needs Mom animated film made for $150 million and grossed $39 million. Just like my golf game — every year it’s a negative ROI.”

Before moving to San Antonio, the owners tried to sell the team, but no one would buy it. So they leased the team to a group of businesspeople who moved it to San Antonio and was an instant hit. You know your team is bad when it is being leased like a Holiday Inn meeting room rental for a multi-level marketing sales pitch. “To be a success in this business, all you have to do is buy $5,000 worth of product a month and get 457 other people to do the same thing.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Washington Wizards

Did you know the Wizards started back in 1961 as the Chicago Packers? What is with pro teams that can’t come up with original team names? People didn’t like the Chicago Packers nicking the name of the football team in Green Bay, especially since they are arch rivals with the Chicago Bears. One Chicagoan said, “Forget the Chicago Packers. They can pack sand for all I care.”

Wow, those are some strong feelings. Maybe some of that vitriol comes from the fact the team had the worst record in the NBA at 18-62. Either way, they quickly changed their named to Chicago Zephyrs for one season. One highlight of the Zephyrs was Terry Dischinger, who captured Rookie of the Year honors. In addition to high school basketball, Dischinger also played football and was coached by his father. No pressure there. “Son, do your best. But if you don’t score, there will be no mashed potatoes at dinner tonight, and you know how you love mashed potatoes.”

The Zephyrs pulled up stakes and moved to Baltimore as the Baltimore Bullets, the name taken from an old 1950s franchise. One of their stars was Bailey Howell, who holds a crazy number of records at Mississippi State including single-game points scored, single-game free throw percentage, single-season rebounds, single-fame rebounds, career scoring average, single-season and career rebounding average, single-season and career free throws made AND MOST shots made with one hand while making spaghetti and meat balls with garlic toast with the other.

At the races

3 Amazing Fun Facts About the Toronto Raptors

Along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, now Memphis Grizzlies, The Toronto Raptors were founded in 1995 when the NBA expanded into Canada as part of their goal for total worldwide domination. The only other market the NBA considered in Ontario was Punkeydoodles Corners, yes, that’s a real town. An NBA executive explained, “The team name was going to be the Punkeydoodles Corners Doodleheads, but they couldn’t fit it on the jerseys, so we went with Toronto.”

Right around this time that the NBA was expanding into Canada, the Canadian Football League was busy expanding into America. The first team was the Sacramento Gold Miners, which was largely made up of the former Sacramento Surge, a team with the defunct World League of American Football. The league failed partly because the games were played in spring, and Americans don’t think of football in spring. They think of baseball, golf, and sucking in their gut at the beach for the next 6 months instead of actually exercising.

The Raptors originally played at the SkyDome, well-known for its motorized, retractable roof. The roof worked well until that one year it broke and it snowed on the court for the entire first half of the game. An arena spokesperson said, “It was the first time we brought out the Zamboni for a basketball game.”

At the races

3 Wild Fun Facts About the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers started playing in 1970. That was a crazy year. That same year, the Jackson 5 made their debut on American Bandstand. I remember because I was a kid and I tried to spin like Michael, but I lost my balance and crashed into my dad’s liquor cabinet, breaking $30,000 worth of vodka and Jim Beam.

The Cavaliers finished their first season with a record of 15-67. John Johnson was named an All-Star that year. Did John’s parents have a hard time coming up with his name, John Johnson? But it has character. My parents should have called me Ditz Ditzel. But they saddled me with Joe, and now everybody asks me where I’m going with that gun in my hand. (For the kids, that’s a Jimi Hendrix reference.)

Johnson was drafted by both the Cavs of the NBA and the Dallas Chapparals of the now defunct ABA. The Chapparals later moved to San Antonio and switched to the NBA as the San Antonio Spurs. The Chapparals were lucky to get a few hundred people in the stands. At one game, there were more people selling hot dogs than there were fans.

“Beer here! Hot dogs! Red Hots! Cokes!….Anybody?…Aaannnnnyyyybody?…Beer! Hot dogs! Cokes!….Anyone?….I’m just going to sit down here and watch the game….Maybe I’ll have better luck in San Antonio.”

At the races

3 Amazing Fun Facts About The Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors were founded in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors. 1946 was a crazy year. That year “The Lost Weekend” won the Academy Award. “The movie was remade in 2009 as ‘The Hangover,'” a film historian explained.

In 1947 The Warriors won the very first Basketball Association of America Championship, now called the NBA Championship. They won it again in 1956, 1975 and 2015. They beat the Fort Wayne Pistons, now the Detroit Pistons, 3-1 to win the 1956 Championship. Fred Zollner, the owner of the Pistons, helped form the NBA by raising support from the phone next to his kitchen table. “He also ordered a Papa John’s Pizza from that same phone, which was just delivered this week, decades late, and it tasted just the same,” an NBA staffer said.

In 1962 the team first moved to San Francisco and became the San Francisco Warriors. A team official explained, “We considered and then rejected several name changes to go along with the move such as the San Francisco Outrageous Rents, the San Francisco 29 Degree Summers, and the San Francisco Democrat Strongholds.”

At the races

3 Wild Fun Facts About the Boston Celtics

The Celtics were founded in 1946. That year Pope Pius XII published the Quemadmodum. Wait, how do spell it? Whatever. Basically, it’s a Catholic document that limits you how long you can kneel in a hot church in July.

One priest said, “Kneeling is dangerous. Last Sunday we had three old ladies pass out from kneeling, so we dunked their heads in the baptismal and let them air out back in the parking lot out back until they revived.”

Currently the Celtics play homes games at the TD Garden. The Boston Bruins also play their home games there.

“Sometimes we schedule the Bruins games and Celtics game at the exact same time. You should see a 7-foot tall Celtics player sitting in the penalty box. They can barely fit in there. We have to open the penalty box door to let their feet stick out a bit,” said a team spokesperson.

The Celtics have an incredible 17 championships, a league record.

A Celtics fan said, “We should have 18! We would have beat the Lakers in 2010 but Rajon Rondo kept leaving the games to get hot dogs. That guy loves hot dogs.”

At the races

3 Crazy Fun Facts About the Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers were founded in 1947. That was an interesting year. The defribillator was invented that same year, a device that has come in handy for Lakers fans having heart attacks when they realize what they are paying for an average ticket.

Jerry, a longtime fan, said, “$600 for one ticket? For what? They’ve been terrible. Hell I can my whole family including my 15 cousins into thte state fair for that price, and we get to see a dinosaur in a battlle with a rodeo bull. I mean, it’s something.”

The LA Lakers started as the Minneapolis Lakers in Minnesota. The team name is in reference to the state’s nickname, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

An Iowan named Chester commented, “Yeah, well that nickname was inspired by Iowa’s nickname: “Land of 10,000 Pigs That Can Sing the National Anthem.”

The Lakers had one of the biggest stars in the league of the time, George Mikan. Nicknamed “Mr. Basketball,” there is even a popular practice activity named after him called the Mikan Drill.

A local coach explained: “Now the Mikan Drill is when you get under the basket and cry because you were the biggest star in the league and got bupkus while today a benchwarming point guard for the 76ers gets $57 million.”