Kentucky Colonels

 Kentucky Colonels 

Colonels Timeline


Kentucky Colonels Team Formation

The Louisville based Colonels started their time in the ABA as a colorful franchise, and not just because of their bright chartreuse green uniforms. Among the things they were known for was their "mascot" Ziggy, a prize winning Brussels Griffon dog that was owned by original team owners Joe and Mamie Gregory. Some fans of the Colonels believed Ziggy was the real owner of the club. Ziggy went to owner's meetings and had a front row seat for games. The dog was even part of the team's logo for their first seasons.

Dan Issel Signed

The early color of their franchise began to wane during the 1970 - 1971 season, when they signed another Wildcat star in All-American Dan Issel. They also dropped the chartreuse green uniforms in favor of a Blue and White scheme similar to that of the Wildcats. Another abnormality to the Colonels uniform change was that the players' last names on the back had only the first letter capitalized, as opposed to all capital letters, which are almost universally featured on the back of nearly every professional or collegiate basketball uniform which names on the back of jerseys are featured. Issel's signing helped the Colonels become well known as a legitimate basketball team. In spite of an average record in the regular season, they made a serious run at the 1971 ABA championship. They fell just short, however, and lost to the Utah Stars in 7 games.

Artis Gilmore Signing

They proved to be even better in 1971, with the signing of ferocious big man Artis Gilmore. Gilmore's signing would help make the Colonels a legitimate powerhouse for years to come. The Colonels won 68 games in his rookie campaign under coach Joe Mullaney; their record turned out to be best in the league's entire history. Yet, in the playoffs, they were upset by the New York Nets in the first round. Kentucky recovered and made another championship run during the 1972 - 1973 playoffs, but lost a physical series to the Indiana Pacers in 7 games, 4 games to 3.

ABA Championship

For the 1974 - 1975, Brown hired Hubie Brown, a former NBA assistant coach, to give them that championship. Unlike the past year, the Colonels would not be denied. After a torrid finish to the regular season, which saw them win 23 of 26 games, they ripped through the playoffs, and beat their nemesis, the Indiana Pacers, in a dominant 4 games to 1 victory to win the 1975 ABA championship. Gilmore scored 28 points and grabbed an amazing 31 rebounds in the final game. That same season the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Title. Colonels owner, John Y. Brown,offered the NBA Champs a million dollars to play a one game world championship. The Warriors and the NBA refused. Many believe the Colonels were the better team.


The ABA had entered the 1975 - 1976 preseason with ten teams. After three preseason games, the Baltimore Claws were shut down by the league due to financial problems and unpaid bills. The San Diego Sails and the Utah Stars each folded shortly after the season began, the Sails after eleven games and the Stars after 16. The ABA was reduced to seven teams for the remainder of the season. Shortly after the regular season ended, the Virginia Squires were forced to fold because they could not meet a league-mandated financial assessment. The six remaining ABA teams began negotiations for the eventual ABA-NBA merger. In the end, the NBA agreed to take in four teams but the Colonels weren't among them.

On July 17, 1976 the Kentucky Colonels ceased to exist as John Y. Brown, Jr. agreed to fold the Colonels in exchange for $3 million. Brown used the money to purchase the Buffalo Braves of the NBA. The Braves are now known as the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Colonels players were put into a dispersal draft. The Chicago Bulls took Artis Gilmore for $1.1 million. The Portland Trail Blazers took Maurice Lucas for $300,000. The Buffalo Braves took Bird Averitt for $125,000. The Indiana Pacers took Wil Jones for $50,000. The New York Nets took Jan Van Breda Kolff for $60,000. The San Antonio Spurs took Louie Dampier for $20,000.

Team Information Team History


Colonels - The name is derived from the historic Kentucky colonels. It is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer.

Freedom Hall
1970 - 1976
Louisville Convention Center
1967 - 1970

John Y. Brown, Jr. and Ellie Brown
1973 - 1976
H. Wendell Cherry, Bill DeWitt, Stuart Jay, David Jones, John Y. Brown, Jr. and Mike Storen
1969 - 1973
Joseph E. Gregory, Mamie Gregory and William C. Boone
1967 - 1969
Don Regan


Established: 1967

League History:
American Basketball Association
1967 - 1976

Team History:
Kentucky Colonels
1967 - 1976

ABA Championships: 1

Hubie Brown
1974 - 1976
Babe McCarthy
1973 - 1974
Joe Mullaney
1971 - 1973
Frank Ramsey
1970 - 1971
Alex Groza
Gene Rhodes
1967 - 1970
John Givens

  *Red is this team's history

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