John Brisker

Ht. 6-5
Wt. 210
College - Toledo
ABA Teams: Pittsburgh Pipers (1969-70), Pittsburgh Condors (1970-71 to 1971-72)

One of the most amazing talent discoveries ever made by the ABA; Runner-up for ABA Rookie of the Year in 1969-70; 2 Time ABA All-Star; Jumped to the NBA Seattle SuperSonics after the ABA Pittsburgh Condors folded in May 1972; Played for the Sonics from 1972 to 1975; Known as the "Heavyweight Champion of the ABA" during his time in the league; rumored to have fought (and perished) in Uganda for Idi Amin in the late 1970's; declared legally dead by King County, Washington medical examiner in 1985

From Jim O'Brien's 1971-72 and 1972-73 Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball:
One of the baddest cats in pro basketball, he takes his game to you . . . Has star quality:  handsome, noble-looking, with take-charge attitude and everyone else be damned . . . Always challenging, always intimidating, when he's got the ball that is . . . Named to 10-man all-ABA team by fellow pros in a poll conducted for the Sporting News . . . Broke into 1969-70 Pipers lineup with big bang as rookie, replacing injured veteran Tom Washington at Indiana and scoring 42 points, while grabbing 12 rebounds . . . Starter ever since . . . Runner-up to Spencer Haywood for ABA Rookie of the Year that season . . . Best unknown talent discovery in the ABA to date, unless you hold out for Utah's Willie Wise . . . Dallas Chaps were his favorite victim during 1970-71:  averaged 36.8 points in five games . . . Averaged 29.3 ppg in 1970-71, finishing third in the ABA scoring race . . . Can be a good rebounder too:  had 24 in game against Carolina . . . 15 points, 17 rebounds in 27-minute stint in 1970-71 ABA All-Star game . . . Fourth in ABA in scoring in 1971-72 with 28.9 ppg . . . Played for Pittsburgh through 1971-72 season, but didn't want to go to the Dallas Chaparrals after Condors franchise was folded, and found way out via attorney-agent Al Ross to play for NBA Seattle Supersonics . . . Played college basketball only in his senior season at Toledo; the previous three seasons he played tuba for the school's marching band . . . Overshadowed at Toledo by Steve Mix, now with NBA Detroit Pistons . . He was also an outstanding pass receiver in football at Toledo, and has been contacted by several NFL teams . . . Heavyweight champ of ABA after decking several contenders, including Kentucky's Sam Smith and Dallas' Ron Boone, both of whom needed extensive facial repairs . . . One promoter made him an offer to become a boxer . . . Played basketball and toyed with boxing in gym in Detroit where Joe Louis learned his trade . . . Designs his own clothes . . . Worked with ghetto youth in clinics he sponsored on his own
Career ABA Totals 205 9953 2088 4561 .453 166 517 .321 1007 1203 .837 1654 562 665 -- -- 5349 8.1 2.7 26.1
ABA All-Star Totals 2 48 8 29 .276 0 2 .000 7 10 .700 22 4 4 -- -- 23 11.0 2.0 11.5


John Brisker had a justified reputation in the ABA for provoking fights and drawing serious blood.  Early during the 1971-72 season, the Utah Stars visited the Pittsburgh Condors at the Civic Arena.   The Stars' Willie Wise held Brisker to just four points in the first half. Brisker then scuffled with several Utah players, and tempers flared before the game was over.

On November 4, 1971, the Condors visited Salt Lake City, and Stars' management arranged "John Brisker Intimidation Night." Ensign Ritchie explained it this way in that night's game program, which featured pro boxer Ron Lyle on the cover (above left):  "Not that anyone on the Utah Stars team fears John Brisker. But just in case the husky, sometimes ill-tempered, Pittsburgh Condor forward gets out of line tonight the Stars' management has taken steps to keep all in control. Surrounding the court tonight will be five of the top boxers the Intermountain Area has ever produced. For tonight is 'John Brisker Intimidation Night' and it is the intention of the Stars to turn the tables on the high scoring Condor. Tonight it is Brisker who is on foreign soil and with the likes of Ron Lyle, Bill Daniels' professional boxer from Denver, Don and Gene Fullmer, Rex Layne and Tony Doyle standing in the wing, best he doesn't get far out of line."

Brisker was wise enough not to provoke all of these boxers at once, but it was an interesting spectacle with the boxers lining the court, and Brisker behaving himself for once.


MEMORIES OF AGUSTIN TORRES: "I remember the St. Patrick's Day ABA doubleheader held in Madison Square Garden in New York on January 19, 1971.  The second game featured the Pittsburgh Condors against the Carolina Cougars.  What I remember of the Pittsburgh game was the crowd on its feet in the second half as John Brisker kept burying 3-pointers, something many people had never seen before. They kept chanting his name and stomping their feet, and he kept firing. I don't remember how many he had but it could have been anywhere between 7 and 10 of them. This year, I was at a luncheon at St. Peter's College in Jersey City where Fred Cranwell is the college's public relations man (a position he held with the Condors). Fred always recalls sitting in his Condors office with Brisker. He was on the phone with a Condors' executive, and in his pocket he had a court injunction to prevent Brisker from jumping to Seattle in the NBA. All Cranwell could think about was that John owned a gun. He basically froze while the executive kept yelling on the phone, from long distance: "give 'im the damn papers!" Fred said Brisker was actually a nice sweet man with children. Some years later, Fred said he picked up Brisker's voice on his telephone answering machine saying hello. He didn't sound well, said Fred. He never heard from Brisker again. Fred told me, believe it or not, that Brisker may have gone to Africa to fight for Idi Amin during civil war in Uganda. Fred told me this with a straight face and swears it's true."


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