1970/71: As they moved to Utah, the Stars looked to build off their trip to the ABA Championship Series, as Zelmo Beaty joined the team. In their first game at the Salt Palace the Stars crushed the Denver Rockets 134-99. The Stars would shine early in the season as they won their first eight games on the way to a 12-1 start. Despite playing well early in the year, there was changes to the roster throughout the season, as they looked to peak in the playofffs. The biggest deal came on December 21st when they traded Donnie Freeman and Wayne Hightower traded to the Texas Chaparrals for Ron Boone and Glen Combs. Boone and Combs would both play in the All-Star Game along with Zelmo Beaty and Red Robbins. The Stars would battle the Indiana Pacers all season for the Western Division Title, falling one game short with a solid record of 57-27. In the playoffs the Stars would make quick would of the Texas Chaparrals winning their first round series with a four game sweep. This would set up a showdown with the Pacers in the Western Division Finals. A year earlier the Stars championship dreams ended in the Los Angeles against the Pacers. In Game 1 on the road the Stars beat the Pacers 120-118 in a hard fought battle, as they raced out to an early 3-1 series lead. However, the Pacers would fight back, winning the next two games as the series went to a seventh game in Indiana. This time it would be the Stars would emerge victorious, winning 108-101 to reach the ABA Championship for the second straight season. The ABA Championship Series would be just as tough for the Utah Stars as they faced the Kentucky Colonels. Home cooking was the theme of the ABA Finals as the Stars won the first two games at home, but lost the next two in Kentucky, including a hard fought 129-125 overtime loss in Game 4. The trend would continue as the Stars won Game 5 at the Salt Palace, while the Colonels won Game 6 in Louisville to send the series the distance. With Game 7 at the Salt Palace, the Stars would bring the championship to Utah, winning 131-121 as the fans rushed the floor and lifted ABA Playoff MVP Zelmo Beaty and Willie Wise on to their shoulders.
1971/72: After winning the ABA Championship in their first year in Utah, the Stars would lose their coach as Bill Sharman left to lead the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. To replace Sherman the Stars hired LaDell Andersen from Utah State. Despite struggling early in the season, the Stars were once again one of the top teams in the ABA, as they won the Western Division title with a record of 60-24, highlighted by a stretch of winning 18 of 19 games. Leading the way once again were Zelmo Beaty and Willie Wise who averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Once again the Stars would face the Dallas Chaparrals in the first round, and excel sweeping them in four straight to set up another battle against the Indiana Pacers. In the Western Division Finals, the Stars would enjoy the views at the Salt Palace as they started the series with two hard fought wins at home, while the Pacers evened the series with two wins in Indiana. The match up of the last two ABA Champions would go the distance as the home team continued to rule the court, with Game 7 set to be played in Salt Lake City. However, the Stars dreams of back to back championships would come to an end as they suffered a heart breaking 117-113 loss in the series finale.
1972/73: It would be an All-Star season in Utah, as the Salt Palace hosted the ABA All-Star Game, with fan favorites Zelmo Beaty, Willie Wise and Jimmy Jones representing the Stars on the Western Division team that was Coached by LaDell Andersen. It would be another strong season for the Stars, who once again won the Western Division Championship in the regular season with a record of 55-29 as they continued to be one of the best drawing teams in the ABA. In the playoffs the Stars against swept their way past the first round, this time beating the expansion San Diego Conquistadors. In the Western Division Finals the Stars again would face the Indiana Pacers. Once again their championship dreams would be foiled as the Pacers won the series in six games. Following the season Coach LaDell Andersen would step down to pursue other interests.
1973/74: Under new Coach Joe Mullaney the Stars looked for a way to get passed the Indiana Pacers. The Stars would trade Ronnie Robinson and Mike Jackson to the Memphis Tams for Johnny Neumann. In his final season with the Stars, Zelmo Beaty posted 13.4 ppg with eight boards per game, as Willie Wise, Ron Boone and Jimmy Jones all had strong seasons to lead the Stars to a third straight division title as they posted a record of 51-33. In the first round of the playoffs the Stars again would face the San Diego Conquistadors. This time it would take six games for them to advance as they once again moved on to face the Indiana Pacers in the Western Division Finals for the fourth straight season, and the fifth straight playoff meeting overall. After losing the previous two years, the Stars got off to a great start winning their first three games. However, the pesky Pacers battled back to win the next three to set up a decisive seventh game at the Salt Palace. In Game 7, the Stars would finally beat their nemesis winning 109-87 to reach the ABA Championship Series. In the ABA Finals the Stars would not be able to stop Julius Erving who led the New York Nets to their first championship, winning in five games. Despite the success on the court the Stars were losing money and Joe Mullaney who co-coach of the year resigned after the team was unable to meet contract obligations. Owner Bill Daniels, who had an unsuccessful run as Governor of Colorado would sell the team to local businessman James A. Collier.
1974/75: The Stars new Owner James A. Collier would make a big splash when he signed Center Moses Malone right out of High School. In his rookie season, the 19 year old was more than a curiosity, averaging 18.8 ppg and 14.6. However, the Stars struggled at the start of the season under new Coach Bucky Buckwalter, losing their first four games and five of their first six games. Midway through the season, ownership would revert back to Bill Daniels, when James A. Collier was unable to make a payment. While the team continued to struggle on the court Malone along with Ron Boone would be the two star attractions, making the All-Star Game. Eventually Buckwalter would be fired as the Stars held a record of 24-32. They would play better under Tom Nissalke, who split 28 games as the Stars finished the season with a record of 38-46 as they landed in fourth place and still reached the playoffs. Their stay in the playoffs would not be a long one as they lost to the Denver Nuggets in six games.
1975/76: Despite continuing to be one of the highest drawing teams in the ABA, the Stars were barely hanging on financially. Owner Bill Daniels again attempted to sell the team, this time to Snellen and Lyle Johnson. However, once again the team would revert back to Daniels, when the Johnsons missed several payments. As the season began, Daniels was running out of money as he was unable to get the funds for the Stars to host an exhibition game against the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. The whole league was in trouble as the season began as the Denver Nuggets and New York Nets both sought to join the NBA. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Claws and San Diego Sails were forced to fold early in the season. With Moses Malone missing the start of the season, with a broken foot the Stars struggled losing 12 of their first 14 games. The Stars would win their next two games against the Kentucky Colonels and Spirits of St. Louis. The win 136-100 win against the Spirits on November 29th would be the final game for the Stars, who became the third team to fold during the season on December 2nd. As the Stars were folding Moses Malone and three other players were sold to the Spirits, with Daniels taking a 10% minority interest in the team in St. Louis. As the ABA season came to an end and talks of a merger emerged with it clear the ABA was set to fold, the Spirits were in talks to move to Utah if they were to join the NBA. However, the NBA only invited four teams, with the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers and Utah was left without a team. They would not be without a team for long as Salt Lake City’s strong fan support was inviting to the NBA, and in 1979 the New Orleans Jazz moved to Utah and became a success story as the Utah Jazz, a success that would have been impossible without the Utah Stars.
©MMXVI 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 Utah Stars 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 19, 2012. Last updated on June 9, 2016 12:00 am ET.