The American Basketball Association didn’t even last a decade before merging with the NBA, but the Bluegrass State still saw plenty of success on the hardwood over that nine-year span.
On this day in 1975, the Kentucky Colonels won the franchise’s lone ABA Finals after taking down the Indiana Pacers 110-105 in Game 5 at Freedom Hall in Louisville. The Colonels posted an impressive 13-3 record during that postseason run and finally got over the hump to win the championship after coming up short in both the 1971 and 1973 ABA Finals.
Artis Gilmore led the Colonels with 28 points on 11-20 shooting and an Oscar Tshiebwe-like 31 rebounds. A pair of former Kentucky Wildcats, Dan Issel and Louie Dampier, combined to drop 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists on 13-24 shooting. All three played at least 40 minutes in the Finals-clinching win and are all in the Kentucky Colonels Hall of Fame.
The Colonels were part of the ABA throughout the league’s entire life cycle and were one of the most successful organizations. No other franchise won more than Kentucky’s 448 total games and only the Pacers won more playoff games (55 compared to Indiana’s 69). The Colonels posted just one losing season from 1967-1976, which was their inaugural year in 1967-68 that saw them finish with a 36-42 record and an appearance in the Eastern Division Semifinals.