|Glen Campbell and Charlie Rich: "Sellout Insurance"
In 1976, the ABA was concerned that the 9th Annual ABA All-Star Game (to be played at Denver's McNichols Arena) would not attract a full house. To stir up interest in the game, the Denver Nuggets hired two 1970's music megastars -- Glen Campbell and Charlie Rich -- to stage a special pre-game concert. Here they are (Campbell above left and Rich above right), crooning away before the big game. Apparently, the singers did help the gate -- 17,798 basketball (and music) fans showed up.
(photos courtesy of Dave Gonyea)
|"That Was Then, This Is Now"
In February of 1969, the Houston Mavericks' "official" average home attendance, as reported to the press, was 378 people per game. During March and April of 1969, the official figure dipped to 333 fans per contest. On April 2, 1969, the Mavericks played their last game in Houston. The opponent was New York, and the announced attendance was -- incredibly -- only 89 people.
Eight years later, on May 1, 1976, the Denver Nuggets hosted Julius Erving and the Nets in Game 1 of the 1976 ABA Championship Series (above right). At the time, McNichols Sports Arena had a capacity of 18,200 for basketball. But Nuggets GM Carl Scheer crammed 19,034 fans into McNichols, adding temporary bleachers and selling standing-room-only tickets until the Fire Marshal cracked down. Dr. J won this game for the Nets almost single-handedly, scoring 45 points (including the game-winning bucket at the buzzer).
(Mavericks photo courtesy of Michael Murphy and Nuggets photo courtesy of Dave Gonyea)
|"Columbine Gold and -- Lavender?"
In 1971, Hall-of-Fame coach Alex Hannum was hired to lead the Denver Rockets. Right off the bat, Hannum tried something new and different. He changed the team's colors from orange and black to "Columbine blue and gold" -- the colors of Colorado's state flower.
The concept was a noble one. But under dim indoor lighting and after numerous washings, the uniforms became an embarrassing pale lavender. Surprisingly, the team continued to use the uniforms for two full seasons before they were completely redesigned.
In the early 1970's, Virginia Squires fans had more to watch than just Charlie Scott, Julius Erving, and George Gervin. They also had the ubiquitous "Mr. Squire." Dressed in colonial attire (complete with a tri-corner hat and powdered wig), the popular mascot entertained Squires fans of all ages. In his most popular activity, Mr. Squire conducted drawings for prizes during time-outs and at halftime.