Pittsburgh Pipers

Pittsburgh Pipers

Condors Timeline


Pittsburgh Pipers Team Formation

The Pipers were one of the ABA's inaugural franchises in 1967. The team had great success on the court, posting the league's best record during the regular season (54-24, .692) and winning the league's first ABA Championship. The Pipers were led by their star player, ABA MVP and future Hall-of-Famer Connie Hawkins, who led the ABA in scoring at 26.8 ppg. The Pipers swept through the 1968 ABA Playoffs and defeated the New Orleans Buccaneers 4 games to 3 to take the title, with Hawkins earning Finals MVP honors. The ABA title remains Pittsburgh's only pro basketball championship.

Move to Minnesota

Despite the Championship and strong attendance figures in Pittsburgh, the Pipers franchise left Pittsburgh after their 1968 ABA Championship and moved to Minnesota in 1968, becoming the Minnesota Pipers. Minnesota was left vacant when the Minnesota Muskies had trouble drawing people in the league's first season and moved to Miami to become the Miami Floridians. The ABA league office was based in Minneapolis (home of league commissioner George Mikan), so the Pipers moved when a Minneapolis attorney named Bill Erickson bought a majority share of the team. As with the Muskies, their home arena was Bloomington's Met Center. However, the Pipers fared no better than the Muskies had and moved back to Pittsburgh after only one season. In Terry Pluto's book on the ABA, Loose Balls, Pipers co-owner Gabe Rubin says he returned to the Steel City because he couldn't think of anywhere else to go.

Back to Pittsburgh

For the first season back in Pittsburgh the team retained the "Pipers" nickname. However, the team failed to match their previous success and fans stayed away. After the season, Haven Industries, maker of the "Jack Frost" brand of sugar products, bought the team and decided a name change was in order.

Name Change to Condors

A "name-the-team" contest yielded the nickname "Pittsburgh Pioneers." However, local NAIA school Point Park College (now Point Park University) already had that nickname and threatened to sue. Ownership resolved the objection by changing the name to "Condors."

Jack McMahon took over as coach. John Brisker and Mike Lewis played in the 1971 ABA All-Star Game, but the Condors could only manage a 36-48 record, fifth place in the Eastern Division and out of the playoffs, one game behind The Floridians. While the Condors had a potent offense (fourth-best in the 11-team ABA with 119.1 points per game), they were often undone by their defense (fourth-worst in the league, allowing 121.8 ppg). Attendance remained poor, with an announced average of 2,806, though some observers close to the team thought the actual average was less than half that. After a slow (4-8) start, general manager Marty Blake decided (in an infamous ABA stunt) to give away every available seat for an early-season game against Florida on November 17. The game attracted the biggest crowd that the team would ever draw under the Condors name; however, it was still only 8,074 (in a 12,300-seat arena), and 3,000 season ticket holders didn't even bother to attend the contest, which Pittsburgh lost, 122-116. Ownership was not amused, and Blake was fired soon after.


Haven and the league tried to move the Condors to a bigger market. However, they were unable to do so, and in June 1972 the ABA canceled the Condors franchise. The Condors' roster was put into a dispersal draft; George Thompson went to the Memphis Tams, Mike Lewis to the Carolina Cougars, Skeeter Swift and James Silas to the Dallas Chaparrals, and Walt Szczerbiak to the Kentucky Colonels. John Brisker jumped to the Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA.

Team Information Team History

Pittsburgh - Minneapolis - Pittsburgh

Pipers - Unknown Nickname Origin.

Pittsburgh Civic Arena
1969 - 1973
1967 - 1968

Bloomington's Met Center
1968 - 1969

Metro Sports Haven Industries
1970 - 1972
Gabe Rubin 
1967 - 1969


Established: 1967

League History:
American Basketball Association
1967 - 1972

Team History:
Pittsburgh Condors
1970 - 1972
Pittsburgh Pipers
1969 - 1970

Minnesota Pipers
1968 - 1969
Pittsburgh Pipers
1967 - 1968

ABA Championships: 1

Jack McMahon and Mark Binstein
1971 - 1972
Jack McMahon
1970 - 1971
John Clark and Buddy Jeanette
1969 - 1970

Jim Harding and Vern Mikkelsen
1968 - 1969
Vince Cazzetta
1967 - 1968

  *Red is this team's history

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