1967/68: In the upstart ABA, the Pittsburgh Pipers had the good fortune of having the best player in the league, during the inaugural season, as the signed Connie Hawkins, who previously played in the ABL with the Pittsburgh Rens. Connie Hawkins had been a star on the courts of New York City, and was recruited to play at Iowa. However, he got caught up in a citywide point shaving scandal and his career got knocked off track. The NBA would blacklist him, forcing him to play in the fledgling ABL, his once season saw him claim the MVP, before he league folded. Over the next three years Hawkins played with the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters as he attempted to sue the NBA. On the advice of his lawyers Hawkins joined the ABA to prove he had professional talent and could play on a structured team with the goal of eventually getting to join the ABA. The Pipers would get Connie Hawkins and would excel, winning their first game 110-107 on October 23rd at the New Jersey Americans. One night later the Pipers would stumble in their home opener, as they lost to the Minnesota Muskies 104-86. Despite a strong roster the Pipers struggled early in the season as they slipped below .500 at 11-12 just after Thanksgiving. However, the Pipers would soon turn things around, with a 15 game winning streak that vaulted them to the top of the Eastern Division. The Pipers would later post a 12 game winning streak as they won the East with a record of 54-24. Vince Cazzetta would win Coach of the Year honors, as Connie Hawkins won the ABA’s inaugural MVP award with 26.8 ppg and 13.5 rpg. Also having big years for the Pipers were Charles Williams who averaged 20.8 ppg, Art Heyman who averaged 20.1 ppg and Chico Vaughn who had 19.9 ppg. In the playoffs the Indiana Pacers were no match for the Pittsburgh Pipers, as they won the series in three straight games. In the Eastern Division Finals, the Pipers continued to cruise, beating the Minnesota Muskies in four games to one, despite suffering a loss at home in Game 2. Facing the New Orleans Buccaneers, the Pipers faced adversity as they trailed two games to one. The Pipers would a tough overtime battle 106-105 to even the series at two games apiece. However, they would suffer another letdown at home in Game 5, losing 111-108. Facing elimination on the road the Pipers rose to the occasion again, winning 118-112 in Game 6 as the series went to a seventh game. At the Pittsburgh Civic Center in Game 7, the Pipers offense was at its best as they beat the Bucs 122-113 to win the ABA’s first Championship, with Connie Hawkins winning the ABA Finals MVP.
1968/69: Despite winning the ABA Championship and being one of the better drawing teams in the first year ABA, the Pipers would leave Pittsburgh for Minnesota. The reason behind the move was the team’s new owners and the league wanted a team in the city were the league’s offices were and where Commissioner George Mikan lived. The move was disastrous, as the Pipers did not fare any better than the Minnesota Muskies and would return to Pittsburgh after one season.
1969/70: When the Pipers came back to Pittsburgh a lot had changed, as Connie Hawkins reached a settlement with the NBA, and would leave the Pipers to join the Phoenix Suns. Without Hawkins, the Pipers now coached by John Clark had trouble getting fans back after spending a season in Minnesota. The Pipers would struggle from the start of the season, as Clark is fired after a 14-25 start. The team would not fare any better with replacement Buddy Jeanette as they finished in fifth place with a record of 29-55.
1970/71: After a poor season in their return to Pittsburgh, a decision was made to start from scratch and this included a change of colors to red and yellow and name change, as the Pittsburgh Pipers became the Pittsburgh Condors following a name the team contest. Originally they had chosen Pittsburgh Pioneers, but a local NAIA school objected since they were already using the name, and team settled on becoming the Condors. In their first season as the Condors, there were few highlights as they again finished in fifth place and missed the playoffs by one game with a record of 36-48. The most memorable game of the season came on November 6th, when playground legend Charles “Helicopter” Hentz broke two backboards in a game against Carolina at Dorton Arena in Raleigh. After the second broken backboard the team had to borrow a wooden basket from a local school, Hentz, who got the name Helicopter for his ability to dunk just stood around and laughed. However, the Condors lost the game 122-107.
1971/72: Hoping to revive the Condors, the team unveiled new uniforms and scheduled a pre-season game against the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks. However, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat out the game with an injury as the Condors continued to lose money. After losing six of their first ten games to start the season, Coach Jack McMahon was fired and replaced by Mark Binstein. The move would backfire, as the Condors played terrible basketball the rest of the season and would finish in last place with a record of 25-59. Averaging less than 1,000 fans a game, there was talk the Condors would fold during the season. However, they barely managed to stay afloat as they played games in other cities, including their final home game on March 28th which they lost to the Kentucky Colonels 136-134 in Tucson. A night later, they would drop their last game ever to the Indiana Pacers on the road 128-113. After the season attempts to move the Condors would fail, as the league decided to fold the team and disperse their players throughout the league.
©MMXII 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 Pittsburgh Pipers 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 July 20, 2012. Last updated on July 25, 2012 at 12:30 am ET.