Forgotten anniversaries: Pro basketball in Minnesota

  • Updated: June 20, 2013 - 12:45 AM

The 1967-68 Muskies and 1968-69 Pipers basketball teams — and five things you might have forgotten about that era of pro hoops.

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Muskies coach Jim Pollard talked to four of his starters (from left), Mel Daniels, Skip Thoren, Don Freeman and Ron Perry in the 1967-68 season. The Muskies went 50-28 that one season before moving to Miami.

Photo: Star Tribune file,

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Plenty of Minnesota sports anniversaries and years are embedded in our collective sports minds. Merely mention 1987, 1991 or 1998, for example, and the Twins’ two World Series titles plus the Vikings’ 15-1 season spring immediately to mind. But what about some lesser-known anniversaries? We’re here to take a look back at some of those, in increments of five years, dating backward from 2013.

Today: The 1967-68 Muskies and 1968-69 Pipers basketball teams — and five things you might have forgotten about that era of pro hoops.

• The Muskies arrived as Minnesota’s first ABA representative in 1967, the same year the North Stars got here. The red, white and blue basketballs failed, however, to capture the rapt attention of the local sports market. They were here for just one year before moving and becoming the aptly named Miami Floridians. “Some nights, you probably could have heard everyone in the building,” former Muskies Player Terry Kunze said in a 2012 Star Tribune interview.

• The Muskies were far more successful on the court than they were at gaining the attention of fans. They went 50-28 that season, playing at Met Center. Center Mel Daniels, who went on to have a very good career, averaged 22.2 points and 15.6 rebounds as an ABA rookie for the Muskies — numbers that are Kevin Love-esque. The squad defeated the Kentucky Colonels in the playoffs before being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Pipers.

• In a twist of fate, the Pipers franchise moved from Pittsburgh to Minnesota the next year. The items of note about the 1968-69 Pipers could fill a much larger space, but let’s start with this: The team had THREE head coaches in their one season here. The first, Jim Harding, was fired after punching the team’s chairman of the board, according to a 1994 Star Tribune story.

• Basketball legend Connie Hawkins played for the Pipers. Injuries limited him to just 47 games, but he still averaged 30.2 points and 11.4 rebounds while helping the team make the playoffs despite a 36-42 record.

– the former Muskies franchise — in the first round of the 1968-69 playoffs. The Floridians won in seven games.

Michael Rand

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San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
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Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
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(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
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Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
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Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
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UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
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Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
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