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Shouldn't Have Relocated: The Memphis Pros

Pau Gasol and Shane Battier in Memphis Pros Uniform
Credit: Joe Murphy / Getty Images

Before being known as the Memphis Pros, from 1967 to 1970, the Pros were known as the New Orleans Buccaneers. Initially, the Buccaneers planned on playing the 1970-71 ABA season and were going to change the team name to the 'Louisana Bucaneers' and play in different cities (ex: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Monroe, etc.) throughout Louisanna as a way to increase sales.

However, these plans were never fulfilled. On August 21st, 1970, the team would be sold to P.W. Blake. I can't find any information about Blake besides the fact that he was a businessman. Ten days after purchasing the Buccaneers, Blake would move the franchise to Memphis. The Memphis Pros would be Memphis' first major professional basketball team.

Before the Memphis Pros' season would start, there were already problems. Blake renamed the Buccaneers the Pros because he already bought 'Bucs' uniforms. It would be cheaper for Blake to convert the 'Bucs' uniforms to 'Pros' uniforms. I'm assuming it's because they're both four-letter words?

There's nothing wrong with being cheap, but it's a red flag when an owner is so cheap that they sacrificed the franchise's most important element (i.e., the name/branding) to save some money.

Also, the owner of a basketball team has to spend lots of money to acquire the best players and succeed. You could also draft good players, but by the end of their rookie contracts, you'll still have to pay them big money.

To add the cherry on top, sportswriters nationwide considered the Memphis Pros to be the most 'unimaginative and boring' nicknames in all of sports. Oof.

Another problem was with the stadium the Memphis Pros were supposed to play at, the Mid-South Coliseum. The Pros weren't able to secure any good home dates for their games. The Pros ended up playing their home games on:

  • 9 Monday Nights

  • 10 Wednesday Afternoons

  • 1 Friday Afternoons

  • Two Sunday Afternoons

Firstly, none of these days or times are good. Most people on a Monday night are probably heading back home from work. On Wednesday and Friday afternoons, I'm assuming people are still at work. Sunday afternoon is perhaps the only good day and time.

Secondly, the Memphis Pros only had 22 home games at HOME. Assuming that home and away games are split 50/50, the Pros were supposed to have 42 home games. The rest of the Pros home games had to be held outside of Memphis.

As a result, the Memphis Pros would only sell 180 season packages.

The last problem isn't as determinantal as the previous two. The University of Memphis' basketball team, the Tigers, also played at the Mid-South Coliseum, so they had beef with the Memphis Pros.

We'll come back to the front-office mess-ups again later. Let's take a look at the Memphis Pros' first season in the ABA.


Table of Contents:

1970-71: The Memphis Pros' First Season

1971-72: The Memphis Pros' Last Season