Fans to Vote For Muskies or Pipers

Minneapolis/St. Paul – Muskies or Pipers? That's the choice Minnesota Timberwolves fans will have at the team's booth at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. The names are in reference to the two American Basketball Association (ABA) franchises that played in Minnesota in the late 1960s.

At this year's State Fair, fans will be given the opportunity to vote on which former Minnesota ABA team – Muskies or Pipers – they would like the Timberwolves to honor by wearing their uniforms for select games next season (2011-12) as part of the NBA's Hardwood Classic Games. The ABA team receiving the most fan votes during the state fair will be the uniform that the Wolves wear next season for the Hardwood Classic Games. Fans can vote in-person at kiosks located at the Wolves booth in the Fan Central Building (corner of Underwood St. and Dan Patch Ave.). Attached are the Muskies and Pipers logos.

As part of the NBA's Hardwood Classic Games next season, the league will be recognizing the 35th anniversary of the 1976 merger of the NBA and ABA. Several NBA teams will be sporting ABA uniforms for selected games.

"We're excited to provide Timberwolves fans and all Minnesotans the opportunity to determine which ABA team - the Muskies or the Pipers - we will honor next season," said Ted Johnson, Timberwolves Chief Marketing Officer & Sr. Vice President of Communications. "The Minnesota State Fair has a long history of being the place to take the pulse of Minnesotans so naturally we thought it would be the perfect place to capture the opinions of our fans. This is just another example of our commitment to our fan development program which allows fans unique opportunities to become part of our pack.”

The Twin Cities played a large role in the early history of the ABA. The original ABA headquarters were located in Minneapolis as the league selected George Mikan, the former Minneapolis Lakers great, as its commissioner. The Minnesota Muskies became charter members of the ABA on Feb. 2, 1967. In their first and only season (1967-68) in Minnesota, the Muskies, who were coached by former Minneapolis Lakers great Jim Pollard, finished with the second-best record in the league (50-28), were led by Rookie of the Year Mel Daniels and reached the Eastern Conference Finals, while playing at the recently constructed Metropolitan Sports Center. However, the Muskies left for Miami after one season in the Twin Cities.

On June 28, 1968, the Pittsburgh Pipers announced that they were relocating to Minnesota to fill the void left by the Muskies. However, like their predecessors, the Pipers only lasted one season in Minnesota (1968-69) despite having reigning MVP Connie "The Hawk" Hawkins on the court and another former Lakers star, Vern Mikkelsen, as general manager. Despite injuries to Hawkins, the Pipers made the playoffs with a 36-42 record, but lost in the first round and ended up moving back to Pittsburgh.
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