Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Dissension surfaces again on pro hoops scene

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: January 9, 2014 - 8:26 PM

The American Basketball Association had franchises for two seasons at Met Center. They were extremely interesting, although not to the sporting public, which embraced the arrival of the NHL with the North Stars and ignored the fledgling basketball league.

The ABA started as a rival to the NBA in the fall of 1967, at the same time the NHL was doubling in size with a six-team expansion to Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St. Louis, the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

The first ABA team was the Muskies. They went 50-28, finished second in the East, won a best-of-5 playoff series against the Kentucky Colonels, and then lost 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Pipers in the semifinals. The official average attendance in the regular season was 2,473, and that was exaggerated.

How do I know this? Well, I’m a sighted individual, and also my friend Bob Fowler was the public relations director. He told me of the night that he handed a sheet of paper with an attendance figure in the hundreds to General Manager Eddie Holman.

Eddie, a former cabdriver, studied it for a minute, put a 2 with a comma in front of the number and said, “Announce this.’’

The Muskies were sold at season’s end and went to Miami. They were named the Floridians. Most everyone thought that was it for the ABA in Bloomington, but then it was announced that the champion Pipers would be moving to Minnesota for the 1968-69 season.

The Pipers had the great Connie Hawkins, the irrepressible Artie Heyman, and the veteran backcourt of Chico Vaughn and Charlie Williams. They all had big personalities and not a great appreciation for discipline.

Vince Cazzetta had resigned as the Pipers coach because he didn’t want to move to Minnesota. The hard-nosed Jim Harding was hired to coach the Minnesota Pipers. By all accounts, he liked to drink, and could be quick to anger when doing so.

Evidence of this occurred at the All-Star Game, when Harding got into an argument with Pipers owner Gabe Rubin and punched him. Harding coached 33 games for the Pipers, Vern Mikkelsen stepped in from the front office for 12 games, and finally, Gus Young was transferred from team promotions to serve as coach.

Gus had been a successful coach at Gustavus Adolphus, but this was a bit more of a challenge when it came to personalities. The Pipers were plagued by both injuries and indifference, and went 10-23 with Young as coach.

The Pipers squezed into the playoffs as a No. 4 seed and then lost a seven-game series to the Floridians. Rubin quickly moved the franchise back to Pittsburgh at the end of the season.

Late in the schedule, the chaos on the Met Center court and sideline was obvious. After another loss, a couple of local sportswriters headed for the home locker room. Gus Young came out, answered a few questions, and then the reporters made a move to enter the locker room.

Showing spryness, Gus darted in front of the door, stretched out his arms and said loudly: “You can’t go in there. We have dissension in there.’’

And more than four decades later, Rick Adelman, an NBA coach of long-standing and excellent reputation, appears to have the same problem in the locker room of his floundering collection of underachievers at Target Center.

The Timberwolves have dissension in there, with Kevin Love in the role of Artie Heyman and J.J. Barea as ... let's say Chico Vaughn. On the court, there’s also Ricky Rubio in the role of Charlie Williams, a point guard shooting 37 percent.

OK, Ricky’s not quite there, but maybe he’ll make a couple of layups on Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Yup. The 2013-14 Timberwolves might remind many of those cohesive units that featured J.R. Rider and Christian Laettner.

Not here. They remind me of the Minnesota Pipers, coached by a guy who punched his owner, and then by a nice older gent from the promotions department.


Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 94 4th Qtr 5:53
New Orleans 96
Indiana 95 4th Qtr 4:02
Orlando 91
LA Clippers 101 4th Qtr 5:54
Phoenix 94
Minnesota 92 4th Qtr 3:49
Atlanta 102
Detroit 53 3rd Qtr
Toronto 58
Milwaukee 55 3rd Qtr
San Antonio 47
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 61 2nd Half 4:09
NC State 65
Belmont 45 2nd Half 12:52
Tennessee St 37
Creighton 18 2nd Half 18:23
Villanova 31
Northwestern 25 1st Half 7:26
Maryland 19
Washington 7:30 PM
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
(11) Stanford 2 1st Half 19:05
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