ABA Days: American Basketball Association with the Carolina Cougars at the Greensboro Coliseum

Much more talk on yesterday’s topic ABA Days with “Pogo Joe” Caldwell from the Cougars and there was our old friend “Big Jim” Modlin(ECU/Ragsdale HS), who played for the Pittsburgh Pipers/Pittsburgh Condors…..And we talked about the Indiana Pacers yesterday with Mel Daniels, Rick Mount and we need to insert Freddie Lewis, Roger Brown and Bob Netolicky into that lineup…..Brown did the dirty work, so Daniels and others could shine and Netolicky had one of the best names in league history….I heard Mike Pratt(color) on University of Kentucky basketball on the radio last night, he was there with the old ABA Kentucky Colonels, along with big man Artis Gilmore out of Gardner Webb and Jacksonville….Governor John Y. Brown was team owner in Kentucky…We found other greats like Kevin Stacom, who was at Providence with “Bad Boy” Marvin Barnes and Ernie “D” DiGregorio and Stacom made the league….Ron Boone was at one time in the backcourt with James Silas and the Spurs and Boone also played for the Utah Stars…We had David Thompson, Bobby Jones and Monte Towe on the Denver Nuggets and Alexander(Alex) English from the University of South Carolina also spent time with Denver…..

The list goes on and on and you’ll see many more below as we can’t let go of those “ABA Days”……….

Some of the guys were a little bit broken down by the time they got to the league, but that will never in my mind change or diminish what the ABA players were able to do….

I was thinking about the man that was set to be the next Pete Maravich just yesterday….Johnny Neumann out of Ole Miss…..

I’ll always miss those ABA greats and I’m lucky I didn’t miss the ABA All-Star Game when it came to Greensboro on a Saturday afternoon back in the 70′s…..

Over the years we saw Billy Paultz, Mack Calvin, Zelmo Beatty, Rick Mount from Purdue, Mel Daniels, Dan Issel from Kentucky, Jim Chones, Jim McDaniels from Western Kentucky, George Gervin, George Ervine, Julius Erving, Ed Manning, “Hound Dog” Ted McClain, “Hawkeye” Hank Whitney, Larry Miller, Bob Verga, Mike Lewis, Vann Williford, Steve Previs, Rick Barry, John Roche, Tom Owens, Billy Melchioni, Harley “Skeeter” Swift, Warren Jabali/Warren Armstrong, Mike Gale and many, many others pass through here with the Carolina Cougars or with the teams that came here to Greensboro to play the Cougars at the Coliseum….

And don’t forget the man we used to see dropping in at the Muirs Chapel Curb Market who came here to the Cougars, from the Memphis Sounds, Wendall Ladner………The first 7-footer to hit town, with the Cougars, big Rich Niemann and so many more Cougars and ABAer’s over the years came through here…..For a nice winning while, Larry Brown was the coach and Doug Moe was his assistant…..I still remember the old San Antonio Spurs coach, Bob Bass…..Lou Carnesseca left St. Johns for a period to coach the New York Nets……Larry Brown was a player with the old Oakland Oaks…..Gene Littles out of High Point College even played for our Carolina Cougars….Bill Sharman coached the old Los Angeles Stars after he had left the Lakers…..We later had the Utah Stars with 18 year-old Moses Malone…..There was the San Diego Conquistores franchise…..

To me, back in the day, the Indiana Pacers with Mel Daniels, Billy Keller, Rick Mount Mount and the Kentucky Colonels, they were the best teams…..Babe Leonard was the old the Indiana Pacers coach and Al Bianchi had short run as a decent coach with his Virginia Squires…..The Colonels used to get a lot of former Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals to be on their teams….

And we can not leave out witout a mention of the the Miami Floridians and their crowd-drawing bikini-clad cheerleaders with the red, white and blue basketballs a spinning and I loved the old free throw rule where you had three chances to make two shots after the 15 th team foul or something like that and you had to get 6 personal fouls before you fouled out of a game…..The ABA is where the three-point shot originated and the NBA picked up the three-pointer from the ABA…

I loved that old league……Plenty of fledgling franchises……When the Cougars became the Spirits of St. Louis they had both “Bad Boy” Marvin Barnes and Ernie DiGregorio from Providence…..Ernie D could shoot the spokes of the rim and “Bad Boy” Barnes could tear down the rim…….


  1. The good “ol days”, free parking, lot of great young talent, and a good open brand of basketball(way before Kobe and Lebron might I add. As a senior in high school on a week night you could go and see the likes of Dr J, Mel Daniels,Iceman etc. Big fros and bell bottoms good times and the war, even back then their was a war,seems as long as I’ve been around . . . ther’s been a war going on . . .seem familiar?

  2. Bring back

    Tom Nisalke-Dallas
    Henry Logan-Western Carolina and Oakland Oaks
    James The Fly Williams-San Antonio
    Lee Dedmon-Cougars

    They were my favorites.

  3. I would buy a $2 ticket and sit in the $6 section until I got kicked out.
    Great competitive basketball.
    For 3 straight years for Christmas presents I received a Red/White/Blue basketball.
    Great times!

  4. We used to get those little minature red, white and blue foam basketballs at the Union 76/Mobile Gas Station over on Spring Garden at Holden and you could put those on your car radio antenae…..

    We would play outdoors with the Red, White and Blue Huffy basketball and the tread on those balls was so thick, you would shoot that ball so much, the ends of your fingers would start to split open….The ABA ball was so good with those Red, White and Blue colors, because all you had to was the watch the colors turn and you would get near-perfect rotation on the ball…..One that ball got slick you could let it go from 50 feet with the rotation and there was about a 55% chance that it would go in the basket……

    Great memories from the ABA….I remember one day I met Bob Verga(Duke/Carolina Cougars) at the old Bocock Stroud Sporting Goods Store in the Friendly Center and got his autograph and I offered him mine, and he said he would pass….I said better to pass than shoot when you are the point guard Bob….

  5. “Loose Balls” is one of the great sports books. Andy’s post is a pretty good crib notes version!

  6. Bob, was that book the “Loose Balls” by Terry Pluto from the Akron Beacon? He used to write for the Greensboro News and Record many moons ago and that book was made into an HBO documentary with some Bob Costas from his days with Spirits of St. Louis and the late Morton Downey Jr. when he was business manager/promotions manager for the New Orleans franchise…..I haven’t seen this guy’s works around in years, but former USA Today media writer Rudy Martzke also got his start in the ABA…..

    Is Martzke still around or did he go the way of the Fabulous Sports Babe, Nancy Donellan?????

  7. Nice trip down memory lane for everyone—what about wendell ladner who wasn’t scared of anyone? I do think that one of the posters is confusing lee dedmon with randy denton of raleigh enloe, duke, and then the cougars—-lee dedmon’s fame was being out jumped in the acc finals by kevin joyce, if i am not mistaken. i am open to corrections.

  8. I do remember the major rotation that we all had to put on the ball to make the long J look good whether it went in or not. Some great players came through. Seems I always wanted to go on the big promotion nights. Will never forget the huge fros even on some of the white dudes.

    Used to love the Hockey in Winston-Salem also. Who were they then…the Polar Twins maybe or was that later? Cousin Ken and I set up some mean broom and promotional puck matches on the tile floor of his basement.

  9. Dr. J and David Thompson at the ABA All-Star game one year was unreal……I think the game was in Denver and I’m glad it was televised….Unreal…

    That is another contribution that the ABA made to the NBA….The Slam Dunk contest at the All-Star games…..

  10. Dr. J and DT were great in the dunk contest but Darnell Hillman was the best in game dunker I have ever seen. But Blake Griffin is good also

  11. Darnell Hillman(Pacers) could really roll and he had one of the best fros of all time, right there with Oscar Gamble of the Cleveland Indians….Mike Gale(Elizabeth City State) had a doo that could do the doo too…..

    On the dunks, what about Dr. Dunkenstein, Darrell Griffith from Louisville….I saw him once on a poster with a surgeon’s suit on getting ready to perform surgery on the rim with a basketball….Wasn’t he Dr. Dunkenstein….Those old posters were pretty neat too….

  12. As a youth, one of my fond memories was having a Carolina Cougar season ticket (at least I remember 1 year we had them) Joe Caldwell, Billy Cunningham..Didn’t Larry Brown coach them for awhile..not sure, he’s been everywhere else!! I always remember..every year the Cougars would think we were good & then the Kentucky Colonels would always come down here and kick our tails!!! If memory serves, I believe they had Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel & Louie Dampier…I think!!! Great memories!!!

  13. Andy u r right it was Darrell Griffith as Dr Dunkenstien and I had that poster on my wall.

  14. A couple of more names to add today would be that great Kentucky Colonel backcourt of Louie Dampier and Dale Carrier, for my money, one of the best the league ever had…..And it was a big day when the “Kangaroo Kid” Billy Cunningham, came to the Carolina Cougars……

    One more name for today and then I’ll roll out of here, and that would be Dan Roundfield….I was thinking about the name this morning of Richard Roundtree and then Dan Roundfield’s name came flying into the lane….Roundfield might have been a teammate of Darnell Hillman for a while….

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