There were 10 teams in the NBA in early 1967, when Californians Dennis Murphy and Gary Davidson announced plans to start a new league, the American Basketball Association, in the fall.

The ABA announced 11 franchises in April, including a team in the Twin Cities called the Minnesota Muskies. The Minneapolis Lakers had left for Los Angeles in 1960 and were a power in the NBA, and now pro basketball would be represented here by an impostor of a major league.

That was the public perception from the start. The Muskies hardly created a ripple with ticket buyers, even with Lakers great Jim Pollard as coach and Mel Daniels, a future Basketball Hall of Famer, as a mighty big man.

The Muskies finished the 1967-68 season at 50-28, won a five-game quarterfinal series with the Kentucky Colonels and then were beaten 4-1 in the Eastern Division finals by the Pittsburgh Pipers and Connie Hawkins.

You want chaos? In the months after that first season, the Muskies moved to Miami to become the Floridians, and the Pipers moved here to play at Met Center, only to move back to Pittsburgh after the 1968-69 season.

Eddie Holman, an ownership partner and general manager of the Muskies, owned a bulk oil company. As a sports executive, he was a novice, and quite a character.

The promotion for the home opener on Oct. 22, 1967, was to give away a Shetland pony at halftime. The winner was Tim Hageman, a 13-year-old who lived in south Minneapolis.

Can't you see it? Mom: "How was the game?" Tim: "Great, Mom. I won a horse."

Four days later, the Muskies lost 115-96 to the Anaheim Amigos and Holman immediately announced a $25 fine for all of the players. A few days later, he rescinded the fines, "if there isn't a repeat of this shoddy performance during the rest of the season."

Too bad GM Holman didn't have a larger audience, because his antics were worth many eye rolls and laughs during that one, lonely season for the Muskies.

Patrick Reusse