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SLC Dunk - The Utah Jazz should merge the former ABA team, the Utah Stars, into their official history


Clint Nielson


Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

The ABA’s Utah Stars success is the main reason why the Utah Jazz exist, and the Stars should get their due for it.

The Utah Jazz have had a remarkable 50 years as a NBA franchise. Their team successes have included a top four highest regular season record % in NBA history, 31 playoff appearances, six western conference finals appearances, and two competitive finals appearances against perhaps the NBA’s greatest dynasty, the 90’s Chicago Bulls. Individually, the Jazz have three players in the NBA 75 Greatest Players list, Karl Malone is top three all-time in NBA regular season points and a two time MVP winner, John Stockton has the most assists and steals in NBA history by a wide margin, Mark Eaton and Rudy Gobert have won multiple defensive player of the year awards, Adrian Dantley led the league in scoring twice, Jeff Hornacek won back-to-back 3 point contests, and many other impressive feats by Jazzmen throughout the years. Lets relive many all time great Jazz moments throughout the years (I included 16, I couldn’t help myself but I promise I write about the articles title below).

The greatest achievement, an NBA championship, has eluded the historically successful Utah Jazz, but that doesn’t mean the state of Utah has not had a professional basketball championship. The Utah Stars won the ABA championship in the 1970-1971 season. The Stars beat the Kentucky Colonels in seven games in the finals. Additionally, the Stars appeared in three of the nine total ABA finals. Other than the ABA Indiana Pacers and New York Nets, the Stars are the most successful ABA franchise ever. The championship season was anchored by the late great Zelmo Beaty, who was second in MVP voting that year. In the finals, Beaty was legendarily great, scoring 28.4 points on 56% shooting and had 16 rebounds a game. Beaty is undeniably the greatest Utah Stars player of all time and probably the third best/most impactful professional basketball player in Utah history. Ron Boone, the former Jazzman and Jazz broadcaster since 1988, as the second best on the championship team (Willie Wise is a close third) had great playoff moments as well, including leading the team in points in the first round against the team that traded him that season, the Texas Chaparrals. the four time all star Ron Boone has an argument as the greatest ironman in sports history. He never missed a game in his professional, collegiate, and high/middle/elementary school basketball career and has not missed a game as a broadcaster (as of 2011, unsure if he has since then but either way, a record breaking achievement).

The Utah Stars were not expected to be successful, as bringing professional sports to little Utah was seen as a professional mistake by owner Bill Daniels. The Stars were heavily supported by Utah, being surprisingly profitable until the ABA started to fall apart in the 1975-1976 season. The success of the Stars showed the country that Utah could successfully support a professional basketball team. Without the Stars, the New Orleans Jazz would never have been relocated to Utah. The Utah Jazz do honor the Utah Stars by naming the G-League team the Salt Lake City Stars, but the Jazz should do even more to honor the historically great and forgotten ABA franchise. The Utah Jazz should petition the NBA to officially merge the Utah Stars into their history, including their franchises stats and their championship. This franchise merging would including retiring the jerseys of Zelmo Beaty (31) and Ron Boone (24), occasionally using Utah Stars themed jerseys as alternates for the Jazz, and the recognition that professional basketball in Utah includes a championship, and more highly successful seasons than those only for the Jazz.



The Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and Brooklyn Nets all officially count their ABA history. Of the three ABA teams that were left out of the ABA–NBA merger, the Stars are the only one to have eventually been replaced by an NBA team. Additionally, when the Charlotte Hornets rebranded from the Charlotte Bobcats, they switched some franchise history with the New Orleans Pelicans, so that each franchise’s history lined up with the city the franchises were currently in. To learn more about the franchise history swap, read the article below.


It would rightfully be up for debate as to what seasons of the Utah Stars should be included into Utah Jazz history. The Stars last full season was 1974-1975, the same year as the inaugural season of the New Orleans Jazz. Does that mean you cut off the first year of the New Orleans Jazz, or do you cut off the last full season of the Utah Stars? Do the Jazz give the New Orleans Pelicans the New Orleans Jazz’s five seasons (sorry, the Jazz nickname has been used for too long in Utah for that to be given to the Pelicans)? Do the Utah Jazz take the three seasons of the Stars not in Utah, when they were in California?

My proposal is to merge the Utah Stars seasons from 1967-1974 with the Utah Jazz’s history, and to not cut off the inaugural season of 1974-1975. This would mean that the Utah Jazz history would span to 1967, include a championship, and have five finals appearances.




Do you think the Jazz should merge the Stars history into their own? If so, how would you go about it? Comment below your thoughts.

To learn more about the Star’s history, read the extended quote below below from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Stars#cite_note-1 (don’t worry, I checked the links and information, its legit)

The Utah Stars were an American Basketball Association (ABA) team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Under head coach Bill Sharman the Stars were the first major professional basketball team to use a pre-game shootaround.[1] History prior to moving to Utah (1967–1970)[edit] The team was founded as the Anaheim Amigos, a charter member of the ABA based in Anaheim, California. They played at the Anaheim Convention Center. The team’s colors were orange and black. The Anaheim Amigos were founded by Art Kim, a Hawaii native who had long been active in basketball as a player, Amateur Athletic Union administrator and owner. The Amigos lost the very first ABA game to Oakland, 132-129. They finished their first season with 25 wins and 53 losses, good for fifth place in the Western Division but not good enough to make the playoffs. The Amigos lost $500,000 in their first season, largely due to poor attendance; they only averaged 1,500 fans per game in a 7,500-seat arena. Kim realized he did not have the resources to keep going and sold the team to construction company owner Jim Kirst, who moved the team as the Los Angeles Stars in 1968 and played at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles. The franchise made an attempt to sign legendary center Wilt Chamberlain, but in the end he did not sign with the Stars. With 33 wins and 45 losses, the Stars improved from their first season but again finished fifth in the Western Division and did not make the playoffs. In October 1969 the Stars signed Zelmo Beaty away from the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, but Beaty had to sit out the season due to a one-year option held by the Hawks, which the Stars would not buy out for $75,000. First year players Mack Calvin and Willie Wise signed with the Stars. The Stars finished fourth in the Western Division with a record of 43-41, earning the first winning season in franchise history and a playoff berth. The Stars defeated the Dallas Chaparrals 4 games to 2 in the Western Division semifinals and bested the Denver Rockets 4 games to 1 in the semifinals before losing the ABA championship series 4 games to 2 to the Indiana Pacers. Kirst had not anticipated the fast turnaround, and did not book the Sports Arena for several dates. They had to play several first and second-round games in their old home in Anaheim, as well as at the Long Beach Sports Arena in Long Beach. This turned out to be their final game as the Los Angeles Stars. Move to Utah (1970–71)[edit] Despite a promising young roster, the Stars were more or less an afterthought in a market whose first choices were the Los Angeles Lakers and UCLA Bruins; they only averaged 2,500 fans per game. In March 1970, Kirst sold the team to Colorado cable TV pioneer Bill Daniels, who moved the team in June to Salt Lake City as the Utah Stars for the 1970–71 season.[2] Zelmo Beaty suited up for the team and they finished second in the Western Division with their best record yet at 57–27 (.679), one game behind the Indiana Pacers.[3] The Stars swept the Texas Chaparrals in four games in the first round of the playoffs,[4] beat Indiana in seven games in a fiercely contested semifinal series,[5] and edged out the Kentucky Colonels in seven games for the ABA championship.[6][7] To date, this is Utah’s only pro basketball championship. 1971–72 season[edit] The Stars won their first division championship, winning the Western Division with a record of 60-24. The Stars defeated the Dallas Chaparrals 4 games to none in the Western Division semifinals before falling to the Indiana Pacers in the Western Division finals, 4 games to 3. 1972–73 season[edit] The Stars hosted the ABA All Star Game and again won the Western Division with a record of 55-29. The Stars defeated the San Diego Conquistadors 4 games to none in the Western Division semifinals but lost in the Western Division finals 4 games to 2 to the Indiana Pacers. 1973–1974 season[edit] In 1973–74 the Stars finished with a record of 51-33 and won first place in the ABA’s Western Division for the third straight year under new coach Joe Mullaney. It was the Stars’ third straight Western Division title. In the playoffs the Stars again defeated the San Diego Conquistadors in the Western Division semifinals, this time 4 games to 2, and went on to defeat the Indiana Pacers 4 games to 3 in the Western Division finals to reach the ABA Finals for the 2nd time in four seasons. The Stars then lost the championship to the New York Nets 4 games to 1. 1974–75 season[edit] This was the Stars’ final full ABA season. Daniels was almost broke due to a series of failed business ventures and an unsuccessful run for governor of Colorado. One of the casualties of the team’s financial woes was Mullaney, who resigned after being told the team could not afford to meet his contract. Daniels sold the team to Salt Lake City businessman James A. Collier in August 1974, but Collier was forced to relinquish the team to Daniels two weeks later after missing a payment. The Stars made a high-profile personnel move that season by signing high school player Moses Malone to play for them.[8][9][10] The Stars finished the season in fourth place in the Western Division and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets, 4 games to 1. 1975–76 season[edit] During the preseason, the Stars (and the Virginia Squires) failed to make payments required as a guarantee for hosting the NBA’s Chicago Bulls in one of the common ABA vs. NBA preseason exhibition games. Daniels sold the team again to Snellen and Lyle Johnson in May, but they relinquished the team to Daniels just before the season after missing several payments. However, Daniels was almost completely broke by this time. As a result, on December 2, 1975, the league canceled the Stars franchise for missing payroll. Four of their players (including Moses Malone) were sold to the Spirits of St. Louis, with Daniels getting a 10% minority stake in the Spirits as well. A fifth player was sold to the Virginia Squires. Daniels ultimately paid back all of the season ticket holders at eight percent interest. The Stars are widely considered one of the most successful teams in ABA history. They were also known for having some of the best fan support in the ABA, even up until the team folded in 1975. From 1970–1975, the Stars went 265-171 (.608), which was the best winning percentage of any team that played more than one season in the league. Aftermath[edit] Despite the Stars’ demise, Salt Lake City had proven it could support big-time professional basketball. With this in mind, in 1976 the owners of the Spirits of St. Louis announced that they were moving the team to Utah for the 1976–1977 ABA season, to play as the Utah Rockies. However, this was undone when the ABA–NBA merger closed in June 1976 and the Spirits and the Kentucky Colonels were the only two teams left out of the merged league. (The Virginia Squires were folded shortly after the end of the regular season due to their inability to make good on a required league assessment, though there was no chance of them being part of a merger deal in any event.) Professional basketball finally returned to Salt Lake City when the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz relocated there in 1979. The Jazz have played in Salt Lake City ever since. Of the three ABA teams that were left out of the ABA–NBA merger, the Stars are the only one to have eventually been replaced by an NBA team. ABA Championship[edit] In their first season in Salt Lake City, the Stars dominated their way to a 57-27 record and a 2nd-place finish in the Western Division standings, a game behind the Indiana Pacers. In the Western Division Semifinals, the Stars would go on to sweep the Texas Chaparrals and then stunned the Pacers in game 7 of the Western Division Finals, earning a spot in the ABA Championship. The Stars would face the Kentucky Colonels in the ABA Championship. In game one a near-capacity crowd filed into the Salt Palace to watch the Stars defeat Kentucky 136-117. The Stars set an ABA Playoff record by scoring 50 points in the 2nd quarter. In game 2, the series continued its high scoring with the Stars beating Kentucky 138-125. The series shifted to Louisville and Kentucky took games 3 and 4, tying the series up at 2-2. The series then returned to Salt Lake City, where the Stars beat Kentucky 137-127, taking a 3-2 series lead. The Stars looked to wrap up the ABA Championship with a game 6 victory in Louisville. However Kentucky clawed their way to a 7th game, barely beating the Stars 105-102, sending the series to a decisive 7th game back in Salt Lake City. With the ABA Championship on the line, an ABA record crowd of 13,260 packed into the Salt Palace[11] to watch game 7 of the 1971 ABA Championship. The game remained close throughout, however the Stars pulled away late, winning the 1971 ABA Championship 131-121. [12] As the game ended, hundreds of Stars fans rushed the court, lifting players onto their shoulders in a jubilant celebration. The actions were a total surprise to Stars officials, as they had not anticipated such a reaction from the fans.

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