New Orleans Buccaneers

New Orleans Buccaneers

Claws Timeline


New Orleans Bucaneers Team Formation

With the founding of the ABA on February 2, 1967 a charter franchise was awarded to a group of seven investors, including Morton Downey, Jr. The group obtained their franchise for $1,000 as opposed to the $30,000 fronted by most other original teams. Charles G. Smither, one of the seven owners, served as team president; another of the investors, Maurice M. Stern, was operations manager. The team was named the New Orleans Buccaneers and former Mississippi State University head coach Babe McCarthy was signed as its first coach. Among the team's first players were Doug Moe, Larry Brown, Gerald Govan, Jimmy Jones and Red Robbins.

Move to Memphis

On August 21, 1970, the team was sold to Memphis businessman P. W. Blake. Ten days later, he moved the team to Memphis and changed its name to the Memphis Pros, reportedly because the already purchased 'Bucs' uniforms could easily be converted to 'Pros' uniforms at little expense.

Name Change to Tams

On June 13, 1972, the team was purchased by Charles O. Finley, who also owned Major League Baseball's Oakland A's and the NHL's California Golden Seals. Finley also took over the team's debts. Legendary former University of Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp became team president. The winning entry in a "Rename the Team" contest was the Memphis Tams, perhaps one of the few entries that could be said to have been even less likely than "Pros." The nickname was an acronym for Tennessee - Arkansas - Mississippi, and the logo was a tam o'shanter-style hat in white, green and gold, which were also the new team colors, shared with the Athletics and Golden Seals.

ABA Takes Over

It soon became apparent that the Tams were not high on the list of Finley's priorities. Amenities like programs began to disappear, and morale suffered as players began to wonder if they would receive paychecks and if they would clear the bank when they did. After two seasons of this, the ABA stepped in and took control of the team. ABA Commissioner Mike Storen resigned his position with the league to take over the operation and run the team in Memphis.

Storen lined up several notable local figures as co-owners of the new team including musician Isaac Hayes and Holiday Inn figure Kemmons Wilson. Storen named the new team the Memphis Sounds and developed a new red and white color scheme and logo.

Short Time in Baltimore

Prior to the 1975 - 1976 season a group of Maryland businessmen bought the troubled Memphis franchise which the ABA league officers had taken over midway through the previous season for $1 million and relocated it to Baltimore. In August 1975, ABA Commissioner Dave DeBusschere suddenly awarded the franchise to another group in Memphis due to apparent financial problems involving the Baltimore owners. However, the Memphis group backed out the very next day and the team ended up back with the Baltimore owners.

The team initially called itself the Baltimore Hustlers, but league and public pressure forced them to change it to the Claws.

Team Information Team History

New Orleans - Memphis - Baltimore

Buccaneers - The buccaneers were pirates who attacked Spanish shipping in the Caribbean Sea during the 17th century.

Emmitsburg, Maryland (Baltimore)
St. Mary's College

Mid-South Coliseum
1970 - 1975

New Orleans
Tulane Gym 
1969 - 1970
Loyola Field House
1967 - 1969

American Basketball Association Office
Charles O. Finley
1972 - 1975
P. W. Blake
1970 - 1972
Morton Downey, Jr., Charles G. Smither and 5 other Owners
1967 - 1970


Established: 1967

League History:
American Basketball Association
1967 - 1975

Team History:
Baltimore Claws (Only Played three exhibition Game)
Memphis Sounds
1974 - 1975
Memphis Tams
1972 - 1974
Memphis Pros
1970 - 1972
New Orleans Buccaneers
1967 - 1970

ABA Championships: 0

Joe Mullaney
1974 - 1975
Bob Bass
1972 - 1973
Babe McCarthy
1967 - 1972

  *Red is this team's history

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