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The Dallas Chaparrals were one of the pioneer member teams of the 11 member ABA (American Basketball Association) formed in 1967. They played in the ABA’s Western division between 1967 and 1973, albeit the team was temporarily renamed Texas Chaparrals for the 1970/1971.
How Did the Dallas Chaparrals Start Up?
The Dallas Chaparrals was started by a consortium of wealthy businessmen including Bob Folsom, with the intent of joining the startup American Basketball Association. The original owners named the club after the Chaparral Club at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel where they were meting, since they were unable to agree on a suitable name. Their home games were split between Moody Coliseum and Dallas Convention Center in Dallas.
The Dallas Chaparrals in Competition:
Their performance was fairly decent throughout their six-year existence. They only failed to make the playoffs in one of those seasons, but won a series only once. Their win percentage dipped below .50 in only two seasons. During the inaugural 1967/1968 season, the team was led by Player/ Coach Cliff Hagan and they went on to finish second with a 46-32 record, making the playoffs. They progressed to the Western finals but were defeated by the New Orleans Buccaneers four games to one. They finished fourth in 1969 at 41-37 but still made the playoffs where they were again eliminated by the Buccaneers in Game 7.
With Hagan having retired to take up the fulltime coaching role at the franchise, they started badly and he was fired in mid-season. General Manager Max Williams took over and guided the Chaparrals to a second place finish with a 45-39 record. They were defeated in the playoffs by the LA Lakers. During the 1970/1971 season the team was rechristened “Texas Chaparrals” and started playing games in Fort Worth and Lubbock alongside Dallas.
They made it to the playoffs despite a 30-54 record at fourth, but lost four straight series games to Utah Stars. They reverted to their former name and City and under new coach Tom Nisstlake, they finished third with a 42-42 record. They again lost all four games in the playoffs against Utah Stars. Coach Babe McCarthy, who had replaced Tom Nisslake, was fired after a bad start to the 1971/1972 season. He gave way to Dave Brown but the Chaparrals still finished poorly, 28-56, missing the playoffs for the first time. That was to be the last season as the Dallas Chaparrals.
Dallas Chaparrals Notable Players:
Cliff Hagan was with the team since it started, doubling up as coach. In his very first game, he scored 40 and recorded a career average 17 points per game during the first season. He was a 5 time NBA All-Star and one time ABA All-Star. He retired at the Chaparrals but his stint as full time coach was disastrous and short lived.
John Beasly played for Dallas from 1967 to 1971 and was instrumental to their consistent runs to the playoffs. He was named in the ABA All-Star selection for three consecutive years between 1968 and 1970 and ABA All-Star Game MVP in 1969. He had a career total 6,909 points, 4257 rebounds and 602 assists.
Dallas Chaparrals Notable Moments:
During the 1970/1971 season, the owner’s experiment with regionalization flopped spectacularly. They had tried to spread home games across three cities including Fort Worth and Lubbock. On January 5, 1971, barely 200 fans turned up for the game against Pittsburg Condors in Fort Worth. In order to save face, management actually announced the attendance as 500. The endeavor was promptly cancelled.
What Happened to The Dallas Chaparrals?
From the outset, the team failed to generate excitement among fans. Crowds were thin at home games, more often than not in their hundreds. Attempts in 1970/1971 to make the team regional by renaming them the “Texas Chaparrals” and having them play in more cities proved futile.
By the end of the 1971/ 1972 season, the owners felt they had lost more than enough money. They approached successful San Antonio businessmen Angelo Drossos and B.J. McCombs with an offer to lease the team for three years with the option to buy.
The lease deal was reportedly worth just one dollar. When asked why they leased so cheap, one of the owners remarked, “We didn’t want the sucker back.”Drossos and McCombs relocated the team to San Antonio where it became an instant hit with fans. Within the first year, the new owners had bought the franchise, much earlier than the stipulated 3 year timeline. The team was renamed San “Antonio Gunslingers” and then “San Antonio Spurs”, its current name.