1970/71: Since their first season, the New Orleans Buccaneers would play a couple a games a year in Memphis, drawing good crowds. After missing the playoffs, and struggling to draw fans in their third season, plans were underway to make the Bucs a regional team playing trough out Louisiana. However, just before the season, the team would be sold to P.W. Blake who moved the team to Memphis. Since the uniforms with Bucs script were already ordered the team became the Pros since it was easy to change on the same uniforms without incurring too much of an extra expense. On October 20th the Pros made their debut, losing to the New York Nets 108-103 at the Mid-South Coliseum. Two nights later they would earn their first win at home against the Kentucky Colonels 109-99. The Pros had their ups and downs early in the season as they spent most of it over .500. In January the Pros would play some of their best basketball, as they posted a record of 12-6, highlighted by a six game winning streak. This came despite the team nearly folding, as Owner P.W. Blake, abandoned team in December, claiming to have lost $200,000. The league would keep the team afloat until new owners were sought. Eventually a group of local businessmen would take over the Pros. As the season wore on the Pros had their struggles, losing eight straight games at the end of February into March. The Pros would go on to finish the season with a record of 41-43, while finishing in third playoffs. The Pros would make the playoffs but made a quick exit as they were swept in four straight games by the Indiana Pacers.
1971/72: Before their second season the Pros underwent wholesale changes, as the signed Johnny Neumann an underclassman from Ole Miss. Meanwhile they lost Snapper Jones and Jimmy Jones, who were each key players in their first season through free agency. Struggling through the early part of the season the Pros continued to make roster moves as Larry Cannon was traded to the Indiana Pacers in mid-season for Don Sidle, later Wendell Ladner, Tom Owens and Bobby Warren to the Carolina Cougars for Randy Denton, Warren Davis and George Lehmann. The second trade would anger Coach Babe McCarthy who was not consulted by the team’s President A.W. Hart. As the season came to an end, the Pros financial problems would see the league take control of the team again, as they finished in last place with a terrible 26-58 record. Following the season Babe McCarthy would resign in frustration of the team’s troubles.
1972/73: Heading into their third season, there was a new hope in Memphis, as Charles O. Finley who had been a successful owner with the Oakland Athletics in baseball and Oakland Seals in hockey, assumed control of the Memphis ABA franchise. With him he took his trade mark kelly green, white and gold colors. He would also give the team a unique new name, the Memphis Tams. A Tam is a traditional hat worn in Scotland called a tam o’shatner that had recently become a fad in America. Finely had his team pose in Tams, as he tried to market the team to three states Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, which when you took the first letter of each state would spell Tam, which was the main reason behind the unique new name. The Tams used their unique look and wore several different combinations of uniforms, often mixing and matching colors. Once the season started, it was clear the Tams had many problems, as Finley proved to be a largely absentee owner. In October as the Tams were off to a miserable 3-10 start. Guard Johnny Neuwmann was placed on waivers; due his big contract nobody would claim him, as new Coach Bob Bass hoped the move would send a message, as the often temperamental Neumann proved to be a headache to Tams management, due to his often greedy play on the court. Neuwmann would return a few days later, and would become more generous as he moved up to fourth in the league in assists. However, with Charles Finely in discussions to move the Tams to Minnesota, the mood in Memphis would sour fast, as Finley who started out as the team’s savior soon began to look more like a scrooge as veteran Ron Franz was cut on Christmas Eve, with Merv Jackson begin cut on New Year’s Day. Both moves were made as cost cutting decisions. Down the stretch the Tams became downright uncompetitive, as they suffered a 15 game losing streak and finished in last place with a record of 25-60.
1973/74: The Tams continued to be a mess, as Charles Finley began trying to sell the team, as he once again looked to move them this time to Rhode Island. However, Finley would be unable to load the Tams, who had a new coach in Butch van Breda Kolff. On the court they continued to struggle, as a frustrated van Breda Kolff who was unable to contact Finley, claimed the Tams could be a solid team if they ever had solid backing from ownership. Fan support would collapse, as the team continued cost cutting moves as programs were replaced by typed mimeographed lineup sheets. Once again the Tams would finish dead last with a horrible record of 21-63.
1974/75: Heading into their fifth season, ABA Commissioner Mike Storen would resign to take over ownership of the Memphis franchise. Once again a name change was in order as they became the Memphis Sounds, with new red and white uniforms. In buying the Sounds, Storen had several co-owners including musician Isaac Hayes and Holiday Inn figure Kemmons Wilson. The Sounds would name Joe Mullaney as their new coach as they hoped to turn around what had become the worst team in the ABA, by signing veterans like Mel Daniels, Freddie Lewis, Roger Brown, George Carter, Chuck Williams, Collis Jones, Rick Mount, and Julius Keye. Early on the new additions did little to improve, the fortunes of Memphis as the Sounds got off to a miserable 4-15 start. The Sounds would continue to be one of the worst team is as they once again lost more than 50 games, for the fourth straight season. However, due to the collapse of the Virginia Squires, who posted the worst season in ABA history the Sounds slipped into the playoffs with a record of 27-57 while finishing in fourth place. In the playoffs the Sounds would meet the Kentucky Colonels and drop the first three games as they appeared to be heading for a sweep. The Sounds would show some pride to win Game 4 at home 107-93. However, the Colonels would march the Sounds out with a 111-99 win in Game 5 on April 13th. It would end up being the last ABA game for the Memphis franchise, as the team was unable to reach league goals for tickets sold, as the team sought new owners and better lease at the Mid-South Coliseum. The team would be sold to investors in Maryland who moved the team to Baltimore. Though it seemed unlikely at the time, Memphis would get a NBA team in 2001, with the arrival of the Grizzlies who relocated from Vancouver.
©MMXIII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the American Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the Memphis Pros, Memphis Tams, MemphisSounds or the ABA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on August 5, 2012. Last updated on June 15, 2013 at 12:20 am ET.