Buffalo Braves

First Game Played October 14, 1970 Last Game Played April 9, 1978 Moved to San Diego in 1978

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1970/71: With a roster made up primarily of castoffs, the Buffalo Braves got off on the right foot by beating the Cleveland Cavilers 107-92 at Buffalo’s historic Aud on October 14th. The Braves would drop their next nine games as they took on established NBA teams on the way to finishing in last place in the Atlantic Division with a typical expansion team record of 22-60, which was seven games better than the Cavaliers their partners in expansion.

1971/72: A pair of Rookies named Smith gave Buffalo fans reason to hope despite repeating their 22-60 record from their inaugural season, while once again occupying the Atlantic Division basement. Elmore Smith and Randy Smith each had outstanding rookie seasons with Elmore averaging 17.3 ppg and 15.2 rpg, while Randy added 13.4 ppg.

1972/73: Despite losing one more game than their first two seasons at 21-61 in third place the Braves, showed several signs of improvement under new Coach Jack Ramsay, as Rookie Center Bob McAdoo provided the silver lining winning the Rookie of the Year with 18.0 ppg and 9.1 rpg.

1973/74: Before the start of the season, the Braves would trade Elmore Smith to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jim McMillian; at first, the trade was questioned. However, it would help clear the way for Bob McAdoo to play center full time. McAdoo would have a monster second season leading the league in scoring with 30.6 ppg, as the Braves made the playoffs by finishing in third place with a 42-40 record. The Braves would play several home games at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto to expand their fan base into Canada. In addition to McAdoo, the Braves were led by Ernie DiGerogio, who became the second straight Brave to capture Rookie of the Year honors by leading the league in assists with 8.2 per game. In the playoffs, the Braves were matched up against the Boston Celtics had through four games played the series even at two games apiece. However, the Celtics would pull away with two big wins to take the series in six games on the way to another NBA Championship.

1974/75: Despite losing three key players Gar Heard, Jim McMillian and Ernie DiGerogio for long stretches the Braves continued to improve finishing in second place with a solid 49-33 record, as Bob McAdoo captured the league’s MVP award while leading the league with an outstanding 34.5 ppg while adding 14-1 rpg, which was fourth-best in the league. In the playoffs, the Braves would square off against the Washington Bullets as both teams traded victories heading into a seventh game. However, in Game 7, the Braves would be shot down, losing 115-96 on the road.

1975/76: With Bob McAdoo leading the league in scoring for the third year in a row with 31.1 ppg, the Braves make the playoffs again with a record of 46-36. In the playoffs, the Braves would go to toe to with Philadelphia 76ers splitting the first two games of a three-game series. On the road for Game 3, the Braves would emerge victorious in overtime with a hard-fought 124-123 victory. In the second round, the Braves and Boston Celtics would once again battle through four games, even at two games apiece. However, once again, the Celtics would take the series in six games. Following the season, the Braves would allow coach Jack Ramsay to depart for a similar job with Portland Trailblazers.

1976/77:  The Buffalo Braves are sold to John Y. Brown, who was previously the owner of the Kentucky Colonels in the recently defunct ABA. As part of an agreement with former owner Paul Snyder, Brown would give Snyder money received in player deals to reduce the purchase price. The sell-off would begin shortly after the season started as the Braves sold Moses Malone, who they acquired in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers after the ABA dispersal draft.it would continue into the season as Bob McAdoo is sold to the New York Knicks. While the deals helped Brown pay virtually nothing for the franchise, it turned an up and coming franchise into one of the worst in the league. Attendance would fall off severally as the Braves finished in fourth place with an awful 30-52 record. The only ray of hope would come as Adrian Dantley captured Rookie of the Year honors with 20.3 ppg. However, Dantley himself would be traded following the season to the Indiana Pacers for Billy Knight.

1977/78: Going into the season, the Braves would get an escape clause in their lease, as season ticket sales did not reach the set goal of 4,500. The Braves would get dealt another blow as Tiny Archibald, who they acquired from the New Jersey Nets for George Johnson, is lost during the preseason to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. The depleted Braves would play competitive basketball in November, holding a 10-10 record. However, they would win just nine games combined over the next three months. While the Braves were struggling on the court, their owner John Y. Brown was brokering a deal to take over the Boston Celtics. Irv Levin, who owned the Celtics wanted to move the historic franchise to California. However, the NBA would not allow him to take the cornerstone franchise out of Boston. NBA Lawyer David Stern would propose a novel comprise in which Levin and Brown swapped franchise with Levin taking over the Braves and moving them to San Diego. The Braves would go on to finish in fourth place with a 27-55 record, ironically playing their last game on April 9th in Boston. Owners would go on to vote 21-1 to approve the deal, and the braves move to San Diego. The deal also included a complicated seven-player trade in which the Celtics acquired Tiny Archibald, Billy Knight, and Marvin Barnes. While the team formerly known as Braves received Freeman Williams, back-up center Kevin Kunnert, and power forwards Kermit Washington and Sidney Wicks. The team would not request a draft pick in the deal, allowing the Celtics to retain the draft rights to Larry Bird.

1978-Present: John Y. Brown only briefly owned the Celtics, before becoming Governor of Kentucky. Meanwhile, the new San Diego Clippers struggled before moving to Los Angeles in 1984, where they set new standards in incompetence. Meanwhile, there has not been any talk of a return to Buffalo for an NBA franchise.

©MXII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the Buffalo Braves of the NBA. 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 March 17, 2003. Last updated on November 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm ET.