Birth of a Franchise

NOW PLAYING in their 27th season in San Antonio, the franchise's history actually dates back to May of 1967, when the Dallas Chaparrals were born.

Before moving to San Antonio in the summer of 1973, the franchise spent six seasons in Dallas as the Chaparrals.

There are lots of great stories from the team's ABA days and the first one centers around how the team got its original name.

"I was having dinner on the 37th floor of the Southland Life Building in the Chaparral Club with Gary Davidson, Ben Josephson and Roland Speth," explained Max Williams, the team's Operational Manager, in the fall of 1967. "Someone suggested that the Chaparral on the club's napkin might be a lively mascot for the team."

After the dinner Williams pursued the idea and, before long, the team was officially named the Dallas Chaparrals. And according to one of the team's old media guides, the name was a hit.

"The name and image has not only lasted but has stirred the imagination of sports fans and manufacturers," reads the Chaparrals 1967-68 media guide. "Now cars, ties, TV programs and women's jewelry are suddenly finding the Chaparral an interesting and imaginative name.

"What the comedies haven't done for the fame of the roadrunner, the Dallas professional basketball team seems destined to complete."

The Chaparrals - as well as the rest of the ABA - made more headlines in the summer of 1967.

In June, Cliff Hagan was named the team's first head coach. Later in the month he held a tryout, with over 60 players in attendance, to assemble the team's first roster.

The camp received national attention as Jim "Bad News" Barnes signed a contract with the Chaparrals and attended the training camp despite the fact he was still under contract with the Lakers. But Barnes bailed on the Chaps once the Lakers offered the big center a big pay raise.

One of the players who did make the team's original 14-man roster was 25-year-old Nolan Richardson, who is now the head coach at the University of Arkansas. Richardson was coaching and teaching at Bowie High School in El Paso when he decided to attend the Chaparrals summer camp.

After an impressive showing in the summer camp, Richardson made the roster. He was described as "a fierce, untiring hawk, who punishes an offensive player," but, in the end, Richardson never played in a game for Dallas.

The first Chaparrals squad was full of players with diverse backgrounds.

Carroll Hooser, a 6-foot-7 forward who averaged 5.6 points per game in '67-68, quit his job as an insurance salesman to join the team.

One of the team's leading scorers, Cincinnatus Powell, spent one season at Xavier. He then joined the Army for three years before enrolling at the University of Portland.

After three seasons at Portland - where he served as the Vice President of the student body and played in a band, Cincy and the Deltas - Powell played for a season with the Battle Creek Braves of the North American Basketball League before earning a spot on the Dallas roster.

Two other players spent time with the Harlem Globetrotters prior to signing with the Chaparrals. Even Head Coach Cliff Hagan wasn't safe.

In need of some scoring, Hagan, who had retired in 1966 after 10 NBA seasons, came out of retirement. He spent the next three seasons as a player as well as the Chaparrals coach, averaging 18.2 points per game during the 1967-68 season.

The Chaparrals finished their first season with a 46-32 mark, splitting their home games between Memorial Auditorium and Moody Coliseum. The Chaparrals finished in the second spot in the Western Division, behind the New Orleans Buccaneers, who were led by Doug Moe.

In the playoffs the Chaparrals beat the Houston Mavericks 3-0 before falling to New Orleans in the Western Division Finals.

The 1967-68 season was a special one for a new league, the ABA, and a new team, the Dallas Chaparrals. Thanks to names like Hagan, Powell and Hooser, Spurs fans are able to cheer for Robinson, Duncan and Elliott today.