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MERGER, MADNESS AND MARAVICH
Frank Deford
April 06, 1970
Professional basketball makes heavy demands on its followers who want to keep abreast of things. As the two leagues continued to battle and players shifted around, the most confused happening was the signing of Pistol Pete
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April 06, 1970

Merger, Madness And Maravich

Professional basketball makes heavy demands on its followers who want to keep abreast of things. As the two leagues continued to battle and players shifted around, the most confused happening was the signing of Pistol Pete

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1) Major league sport comes to Oregon as the NBA grants Portland a franchise. Well, the NFL has Green Bay, doesn't it?

2) Trying to draw three, inside, to a straight. San Francisco owns the rights to Nate Thurmond, who says he has retired, and to Rick Barry and Zelmo Beaty, who are in the ABA. The team is the greatest threat, on paper, short of the ABM. The Warriors also found a way to discard what would have been the rights to Pete Maravich. Instead, their top choice was the unforgettable Earl Higgins of Eastern Michigan. Barry now says he'll be back in San Francisco for the 1971-72 season.

3) Saving the old men. The Laker geriatric cases are running out of time and wonder drugs, but a merger—which should be consummated by the time teams have to start signing their veterans this summer—will require that the Stars leave the town to Jack Kent Cooke.

4) The Tijuana shorts. San Diego also passed up the chance to draft Maravich. Either the Rockets are broke or they are the NBA's sacrificial lambs. Anyway, now the fans will have the same old excuses for staying home.

5) Goodby, Charlie. Right off the basketball map go Minneapolis-St. Paul and Houston, the two poorest pro basketball cities. Three franchises have flunked in Minny and Houston is playing catch-up. One of the NBA's new franchises was going to Houston, but then the town's biggest hero, Elvin Hayes, came back for a regular league game—and drew all of 2,200. Right after that, NBA Houston money got very tight.

6) Nothing could be finer than to be like Carolina. Believe it or not, a merger now appears likely to include all 11 ABA cities. If that happens, a couple of weak sisters, New Orleans and Miami, will go regional like the Cougars, who have outdrawn every first-year franchise in history. At the same time, Carolina's failure to sign Maravich may have cost the whole ABA a great deal. CBS picked up an option to televise ABA playoff games, but it may reconsider next season's planned telecasts because of Pete's absence.

7) Welcome, Seattle pilots. Big-league Milwaukee forced its beloved Bucks out of town—to Madison—for their first-round playoffs. The baseball Pilots will have a home, at least.

8) Finger-lickin' good. Coming to life at last under new owners, the Colonels signed Dan Issel and Mike Pratt from Kentucky and Tennessee Center Bobby Croft, who was Dallas' first choice. They have another signing—an intramural goody—all set.

9) Easy come, easy go. Detroit loses Dave Bing to the ABA Caps, but gets the big man, Bob Lanier, the NBA's first draft choice. He'll be in the same division with Alcindor.

10) The big stumbling block to merger. Abe Pollin of NBA Baltimore says his former Bullet partner, Earl Foreman of ABA Washington, is infringing on his territory. This is ridiculous. The two cities may be only 38 miles apart, but they are in different worlds. The only Baltimoreans who go to Washington are those under 21, because you can drink beer at 18 in D.C. The only Washingtonians who go to Baltimore are new ambassadors who want to get one look at Blaze Starr. Cynics suggest Foreman is only infringing on Pollin's chances to move to D.C. as soon as the proposed Union Station arena is built. The pressure is now on Foreman to move his Capitols to Virginia.

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