Carolina Cougars Fan Memories (Page 2)

MEMORIES OF KYLE HARRISON: "I grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I remember seeing the Carolina Cougars "traveling road show" a few times during '73 and '74 when it came to the old Winston-Salem Coliseum. Sometimes I wonder exactly how many cities in North Carolina the team really played in -- it wasn't always Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro. My favorite players from the Cougars were Tom Owens, Mack Calvin, and Billy Cunningham. North Carolina was a really tough market for pro basketball back then. I remember that the Cougars were always struggling to get fans' attention away from the local college teams. At the time, college basketball took a back seat to nothing -- this was during the time when NC State had David Thompson and they were on their way to a national championship. The ACC was extremely competitive; there were very big rivalries between UNC, Maryland and NC State - not to mention very good TV coverage. I had an old AM radio that I would use to search for broadcasts of other ABA teams, and sometimes I could find a Virginia Squires game. I never liked the NBA. The NBA had a boring game, dull players, and owners who thought they were God's gift to organized sports. The ABA was excitement. When the Cougars franchise closed, I found myself searching for those Squires games on my AM radio a lot more often. The late 60's and early 70's was a great time to be a kid - the ABA, the Apollo space program, Sid and Marty Krofft's shows on Saturday TV, and a thousand other things that are stuck in the memories of the 30-something crowd."

MEMORIES OF KENNETH WHITE: "I was maybe 9 or 10 years old, and I went with my neighbors to see the Cougars play the Denver Rockets. I don't remember the exact year - maybe the 1971-72 or the 1972-73 season. The game was at the Greensboro Coliseum or Winston Salem Coliseum. During the pre-game warm ups, my friend and I went on to the court for autographs. The players just stopped what they were doing and signed autographs for us. Come to think about it, I don't know if we were supposed to be out there or not. The players I remember on the Cougars were Ed Manning (he had the best signature, very legible), Joe Caldwell, and Gene Littles. I also remember Larry Brown for the Rockets. I don't remember any other names, but I do remember that the players on the floor did not seem to mind sharing the court with us at all. I don't actually remember much of the game itself, other than Larry Brown shooting the ball a lot. I would watch the Cougars on TV every chance I had. It was really great when we got a color TV set. Back then the ACC and the ABA ruled around here. The NBA was no fun to watch at all till playoff time. To this day I still will only own a red, white and blue basketball. I thought it was the beautiful sight to see that ball with a slow rotation from a long-range, high-arching jump shot."

MEMORIES OF DENNIS TUTTLE: "I grew up in a small town just north of Winston-Salem and my brother often took me to the games at the Greensboro Coliseum. There was a promotion through an ice cream shop that gave you a big discount on a ticket if you bought one at full price, so we often used that method of getting into the games in Greensboro. I would sell pop bottles or do yard work to raise money for going to the games. I became a very familiar face with the Cougar players over their last three seasons. After the games I simply wouldn't allow my brother to leave until I got ALL the Cougars' autographs. Security was very loose and fans could actually get down on the court after the game. I would buy a program for that night and wait right next to the door of the Cougars' dressing room. The players got so used to seeing me that they would say something like, "Little man, I just signed one for you the other night." And I would say, "Yeah, but not on THIS program." I was not beyond chasing the players out the door. One "chasing" incident I remember involved Artis Gilmore of the Colonels. My brother took me to Game 2 of the 1973 ABA Semifinals in Greensboro. It was a Saturday afternoon and the game was nationally televised on CBS. The Cougars completely destroyed the Colonels (125-105) and Gilmore played terribly. Now, Gilmore was the most awesome human specimen I had ever seen. I was a kid and he was 7-2. I don't think I came up to his waist. Gilmore had that big head of hair and those porkchop sideburns. He wore this full-length black coat and a big, wide-rimmed hat. He was about the most intimidating person I'd ever seen. Well, my stepfather could not believe the size of this man, and he knew I was a brassy kid. So he dared me to get Gilmore's autograph. Gilmore had had such a terrible game that he just rushed right past people once he got outside the visitors' dressing room. He went out the side door--with me right behind. He didnt stop walking, and didnt turn around. I kept saying, "Mr. Gilmore...Mr. Gilmore...." He went out onto the street outside the Coliseum, through a gate, and into the parking lot (I have no idea where he was going because the team bus was just outside the players' gate). I must've chased him through five or six rows of cars, calling his name. Finally, he stopped. He turned to me and never said a word. I held the pen and program up to him. He never flinched. Never bent down. Never uttered a sound. He scribbled his name across the program in a manner that looked like a giant "A" followed by a long, curvy line. It was completely unreadable. Anything, I suppose,to get rid of this pesky kid! But I got him to sign it. To this day, whenever talk around my parents' house comes up about the ABA, my brother and stepfather bring up the day I chased Artis Gilmore halfway around Greensboro."

MEMORIES OF STEVE PAYSEUR: "I transferred to Appalachian State University in 1973. I didn't know it at the time but the Cougars had their training camp there. I had been to several Cougars games in Charlotte and knew quite a few of the players from their ACC playing days. It was a big surprise to my buddies and I when we were at a local watering hole in Blowing Rock, called the Villa Maria, and many of the Carolina Cougars came in. I can remember distinctly seeing Doug Moe, Larry Brown, "Jumpin'" Joe Caldwell, Billy Cunningham, and Mike Lewis there. We saw them there on several occasions. They were pretty easy to spot as they were considerably taller than the rest of us. At the same time, Press Maravich was the Appalachian State basketball coach. His teams were terrible. But, his son Pete Maravich came up there quite a few times. I watched him play in pick up games in the gym. I never got to play with him or against him. As you might guess, those were pretty popular pick up games."

MEMORIES OF ERIC RIDDLE: "My friend Jerry and I were 13 and 14 - we loved the Cougars so much we would listen to all the away games on radio. The announcer was Bob Lamey and he was great at making the game exciting. We saw many of the home games at Greensboro - we bought 2 dollar upper level tickets, but would go downstairs and sit in the empty season ticket holders' seats. We never bought a program, we always found several laying around after the games. I still have a few. One of my favorite players was Wendell Ladner. He was a Mr. Hustle kind of guy who would almost kill himself going after a loose ball. A few years after playing for the Cougars he was killed in a plane crash. I also loved Billy Cunningham. His first nickname was the "Kangaroo Kid," but we always simply called him "Ham." He was a ham because he would take a charge and you would think he had nearly been killed (remember we had seats on the floor nearly halfcourt).It was great!"

MEMORIES OF MAC BLYTHE: "I was a pretty young kid in 1973 or 1974 when San Diego came to Charlotte to play the Cougars. The main attraction of the night was the Conquistadors' new coach, Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt had recently left the NBA Lakers to become coach of the Q's. You have to remember that Charlotte was more of a backwater city in those days. So the thought of seeing Wilt Chamberlain in person was about as exciting as it got. Much to our chagrin, Wilt was nowhere to be found during warmups and still hadn't arrived when the game started. We were all but devastated and wondered where the heck Wilt was. Finally, sometime in the second quarter if I remember correctly, Wilt the Stilt walked slowly into the arena and took his spot on the bench, to the sarcastic cheers of the Carolina fans. I doubt he did much coaching, but my friends and I were beside ourselves just to see him. I think my dad told me that Wilt had "overslept.""

Cougars Fan Memories (Page 1)

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