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ABA Teams: San Diego Conquistadors/Sails


San Diego Consquistadors

Numerous NBA teams are based in California. The Los Angeles Lakers/Clippers (Los Angeles), Sacramento Kings (Sacramento), and the Golden State Warriors (San Francisco). All of these teams are based in some of the most populated cities in California:

  • Los Angeles: 3.9 Million

  • San Fransisco: 810,000

  • Sacramento: 470,000

NBA teams base their teams in more populated cities as the more people there are, the more tickets are being sold. However, San Diego, the second-most populated city in California, does not have an NBA team.


The last San Diego NBA team were the San Diego Rockets (1967-71) and the San Diego Clippers (1978-84). However, both teams are now in different cities (Houston and Los Angeles). Has there been a professional basketball team that stayed in San Diego for the team's lifespan?


Well... yes. Why else would I be writing this article? Besides the NBA, during the 1960-70s, another professional basketball league was up and running alongside the NBA, the American Basketball Association (ABA).

Of the twelve teams in the ABA, the San Diego Conquistadors/Sails were one. The San Diego Conquistadors/Sails were founded in 1972. From 1972-74, the ABA San Diego team would go by the San Diego Conquistadors. In the 1975 ABA season, they changed their names to the San Diego Sails, but after three years in the ABA (1972-75), the San Diego Conquistadors/Sails disbanded.


Although the San Diego Conquistadors/Sails were only in the league for three seasons, were they any good?

No.

Well, what about what was happening behind the scenes? How was the staff? They must have had many fans, considering they were in the second-most populated city in California!

Although filled with potential, almost nothing went well for the San Diego Conquistadors/Sails. They would make the playoffs twice but never made it that far. In addition, there was always something going wrong behind the scenes.

Want to know more about the trash fire that is the San Diego Conquistadors/Sails? Keep on reading!

 

Table of Contents:

 

The Start:

Leonard Bloom founded the San Diego Conquistadors in 1972. Before becoming the owner of the Conquistadors, Bloom was known for being a real estate developer. As a real estate developer, Bloom helped create:

  • Numerous sports facilities throughout California

  • Four NFL Stadiums

  • The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Venue

Besides his real-estate ventures, Bloom was the owner of a ticketing company, Bass Tickets, and entertainment company, Marquee Entertainment Corporation.


That's not all. In addition to being the owner of the Conquistadors, Bloom was the owner of the Los Angeles Sharks, a hockey team, and the World Team Tennis League, a professional tennis league.


FINALLY, to add the cherry on top, Bloom also had a professional license in dental, orthodontic, and medical.


So yeah, he's stacked.


Bloom had to pay an entry fee of $1 million for an ABA team in San Diego. Taking account of inflation, that means that in 2021, Bloom would have to pay around $6.5 million.


Now, that sounds like a lot, and that's because it is! However, in 2021, the entry fee for an NBA team is MUCH higher than $6.5 million. The entry fee now is $2.5 BILLION!


Sidenote: I have no idea why Bloom named the team the San Diego Conquistadors/Sails. From research, Bloom might have named the team the Conquistadors due to the early California history. As for 'Sails,' that might have to do with San Diego being located next to the Pacific Ocean?


As said earlier, the San Diego Conquistadors were a trainwreck. Before they even started their debut, Bloom and the Conquistadors were in a rut. They wanted to play at the San Diego Sports Arena, where it held up to 14,400 seats, but how can you play at a stadium that you're temporarily banned from?

The operator of the stadium, Peter Graham, locked Bloom and the Conquistadors out of the stadium for two years!


Why, you may ask? It's because Graham was upset at Bloom being award the expansion ABA team. Graham also wanted the expansion team, so Graham locked out Bloom and the Conquistadors as any grown adult would.


As a result, the San Diego Conquistadors had to play at Peterson Gymnasium. The 'stadium' only had 3,200 seats. The average ticket price of a seat at an ABA game was $10-$30. Assuming that the Conquistadors sold out at both arenas, they would have made:

  • San Diego Sports Arena: $144,000 - $432,000

  • Peterson Gymnasium: $32,000 - $96,000

So even if the San Diego Conquistadors had sold out their seats at Peterson Gymnasium for $30 per seat, that still wouldn't be as much as if they had sold out their seats at San Diego Sports Arena for $10 per seat.

To add insult to injury, on average, the Conquistadors only sold 1840 seats. That means the average Conquistadors' game was only 57.5% full. The least they would make was $18,400, while the most was $55,200...

By the time the San Diego Conquistadors were permitted to use San Diego Sports Arena, it was already too late. Why? Well, you're just going to have to keep on reading to find out!

All-Star Coaches:

Although the San Diego Conquistadors were garbage, they had a lot of All-Star coaches. Now, I'm not saying that these coaches are up there with the likes of Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich. These coaches were all AMAZING NBA players:

  • K.C. Jones: 8x NBA Champion and Hall of Famer (1972-73)

  • Wilt Chamberlain: 13x All-Star, 4x MVP, Hall of Famer, and Many Other Awards (1973-74)

  • Alex Groza: 1x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, and ROTY (1974-75)

Although the above three were terrific players, none of them were good coaches. Not a single one of them was able to lead the Conquistadors to a positive record.


Wilt Chamberlain

The coach with the best regular-season record with the San Diego Conquistadors was Wilt Chamberlain in 1973-74. They ended up going 37-47 (44.0 W/L%) and were the fourth seed in the Western Conference (out of five). You wouldn't expect a 37-47 team to make it to the playoffs, but they did!

As long as you were not the worst team in your conference, you were guaranteed a playoff spot. The only team that didn't make the playoffs were the Memphis Tams, who went 21-63 (25.0 W/L%).

Even though Chamberlain led the Conquistadors to their best regular-season record and playoffs, he wasn't that good of a coach.


Initially, Chamberlain signed a three-year $1.8 million contract with the Conquistadors to serve as a 'player-coach.' As the title suggests, Chamberlain was supposed to be a player and the head coach for the Conquistadors.

However, Chamberlain still had to play his option year for the Los Angeles Lakers. As a result, the Lakers went to court and won, barring Wilt Chamberlain from playing for the Conquistadors. On the flip side, at least Chamberlain was still allowed to coach the Conquistadors.

Unfortunately, Chamberlain didn't care for coaching. He found the day-to-day things boring and was impatient. Chamberlain was more focused on promoting his autobiography than coaching. One day, Chamberlain skipped a game so that he could sign autographs for his book...


In the end, most of the coaching duties went to assistant coach Stan Albeck (who, in my opinion, was the real head coach).

The San Diego Conquistadors paid Chamberlain $1.8 million to essentially self-promote his book... There was still a light at the end of the tunnel. Although not related to the Conquistadors, Stan Albeck would continue coaching and would serve as a head coach for the:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers

  • San Antonio Spurs

  • New Jersey Nets

  • Chicago Bulls

  • Atlanta Hawks

K.C. Jones and Alex Groza

As for K.C. Jones and Alex Groza, I have no idea what their coaching situations were like. K.C. Jones only coached the San Diego Conquistadors for 84 games, while Alex Groza coached them for only 38!


It's ironic how the player with the third-most championships (K.C. Jones) couldn't take the Conquistadors past the first round of the playoffs. In addition, it's funny how the Conquistadors hired the player BANNED from the NBA for a point-shaving (i.e., gambling) controversy.


Beryl Shipley

Besides these All-Star coaches, the San Diego Conquistadors were also coached by Beryl Shipley and Bill Musselman. Shipley replaced Alex Groza as head coach for the remainder of the 1974-75 ABA season. For the remaining 46 games, Shipley led the Conquistadors to a 16-30 record.


Although this was Shipley's only coaching job in the ABA/NBA, he left behind a good legacy. I'll include his story under this paragraph as it would take up too much space.



The Big 3?

Now, you might be wondering, "how come there's a question mark?" Welp, that's because the San Diego Conquistadors never really had a Big 3.

What do you expect?

For the three-season that they were a team, they had a negative win record for each season. There's no way a team that had a negative win record every season had a Big 3. Instead, I'll choose the best player from each season. Since there were three seasons, there will be three different players, and therefore, a Big 3! Voila!

  • 1972-73: Stew Johnson

  • 1973-74: Bo Lamar

  • 1994-75: Travis Grant

Stew Johnson

As said previously, the San Diego Conquistadors were the ABA's first and only expansion team. To fill up their team, the Conquistadors had a special ABA expansion draft. In that expansion draft, they chose Stew Johnson.

When Johnson first entered the NBA, he was originally chosen by the New York Knicks as the 21st pick in the 1966 NBA Draft. However, Johnson ended up playing in the ABA for the Kentucky Colonels for his rookie season.

Before joining the Conquistadors, Johnson was always an above-average player. In the season before he joined the Conquistadors (1971-72), Johnson was on the Carolina Cougars and averaged:


12.6 Points, 5.4 Rebounds, 1.5 Assists

43.0 FG%, 32.5 3P%, 72.6 FT%

22.5 Minutes


Pretty decent numbers. However, once he joined the San Diego Conquistadors, Johnson went from being an above-average role player to an All-Star. In his first season with the Conquistadors, he averaged:


22.1 Points, 7.5 Rebounds, 2.2 Assists

44.0 FG%, 27.8 3P%, 81.9 FT%

36.9 Minutes


Besides three-point efficiency, Johnson improved in every stat! This is probably because he played 14.4 more minutes compared to his season with the Cougars.

Nevertheless, because of his outstanding regular-season performance, Johnson would be selected as a first-time All-Star. However, in the All-Star game, Johnson only played eleven minutes and scored two points.

Although the San Diego Conquistadors were not the best team and were horribly managed, going to the Conquistadors was probably Johnson's best choice in his career - not like he had the choice since he was drafted.

In his first five seasons in the NBA, none of the teams that Johnson was on made it to the playoffs:

  • Kentucky Colonels

  • New Jersey Americans

  • Houston Mavericks

  • Pittsburgh Pipers

Johnson's first playoff experience was with the San Diego Conquistadors. In addition, this was the peak of Johnson's career. While with the Conquistadors, Johnson was a 2x All-Star and was always one of the best players on the team.


Bo Lamar

Like Stew Johnson, Bo Lamar was drafted by an NBA team, the Detroit Pistons, as the 44th pick in the 1973 NBA Draft. However, again, like Johnson, Lamar played his rookie season with an ABA team, in this case, the San Diego Conquistadors! Yes, a rookie was the Conquistadors' best player in the 1973-74 ABA Season.


Now, if you're the best player is a rookie, then your team must suck. Now, the Conquistadors did suck, but Lamar was special. In his first season with the Conquistadors, Lamar averaged:


20.4 Points, 3.5 Rebounds, 3.4 Assists, 1.5 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks

39.7 FG%, 27.9 3P%, 77.7 FT%

33.6 Minutes


Now, for a rookie, that stat-line is extremely impressive. However, I still want to point out that Lamar was an extremely inconsistent shooter this season (as expected from a rookie). In his rookie season, he attempts 20.5 field goals a game! In the 2020-2021 NBA season, the only players averaging more field goal attempts than that are:

  • Bradley Beal: 23.09 FGA

  • Stephen Curry: 21.78 FGA

  • Luka Doncic: 21.19 FGA

  • Donovan Mitchell: 21.05 FGA

  • Jayson Tatum: 20.87 FGA

As a result of his impressive performance during his rookie season, Lamar would be selected to the All-Rookie First Team. However, Lamar wouldn't even be Top 4 in Rookie of the Year Voting.

Somehow, John Williamson, who averaged 14/3/3, was considered for ROTY, but not Lamar.


What makes this worst is that the winner, Swen Nater, was DEFINITELY not the best rookie that season. If it wasn't Lamar, it should have at least went to Caldwell Jones. Jones was averaging 15/14/2 AND was leading the league in blocks as a rookie! He had FOUR BLOCKS a GAME!


In the 1973-74 ABA Playoffs, Lamar showed the voters that he should have been the ROTY. In probably one of the best playoff runs by a Conquistador, Lamar averaged:


27.5 Points, 4.0 Rebounds, 3.5 Assists, 1.8 Steals, and 0.3 Blocks

44.1 FG%, 41.2 3P%, 84.2 FT%

40.2 Minutes


We'll look at this playoff run more closely in the next section, but GOD DAMN! He improved in every stat, including his efficiency! He was playing like an MVP!


Lamar would stay with the San Diego Conquistadors up until they were the San Diego Sails and disbanded. He would later sign with the Indiana Pacers and in the following season, the Los Angeles Lakers, but after that, did not play any more professional basketball.

What's weird is that Lamar had a pretty big downfall from his rookie year. In his last season (1976-77), he averaged:

7.1 Points, 1.3 Rebounds, 2.5 Assists, 0.8 Steals

40.6 FG%, 67.6 FT%

16.4 Minutes


He was only 25 when he retired. I think this huge downfall might have to do with Lamar's playstyle. It seemed like he was a streaky shooter. The longer he played, the more shots he hit. However, when you only play 16 minutes per game, you can't upstart that streak.

Finally, in his rookie season, he had a 50 points game where he almost had as many field goal attempts as the rest of the San Diego Conquistadors' starters:

  • Bo Lamar: 46 FGA

  • Caldwell Jones, Chuck Williams, Tim Bassett, and Stew Johnson: 49 FGA

Travis Grant

The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Travis Grant as the thirteenth pick in the 1972 NBA Draft. Grant also entered the 1972 ABA Draft and was selected by the Utah Stars. Grant would only play 33 games with the Lakers before being waived, subsequently signing with the San Diego Conquistadors for the 1973-74 ABA season.


Grant was the best Conquistadors' player for the 1974-75 ABA season, but that doesn't mean he was bad in his 1973-74 ABA season. In the 1973-74 ABA season, Grant averaged:


15.3 Points, 5.3 Rebounds, 1.1 Assists, 0.8 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks

52.4 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 80.1 FT%

23.6 Minutes


Unfortunately, 56 games into the season, he broke his foot and could not play for the rest of the season.


Once healed and rejuvenated, Grant went all out in the 1974-75 ABA season. This was probably the best regular-season stat-line by a San Diego Conquistadors' player within their three-season history. Grant averaged:


25.2 Points, 6.2 Rebounds, 1.8 Assists, 0.8 Steals, and 0.4 Blocks

54.4 FG%, 50.0 3P%, 83.5 FT%

37.7 Minutes


Grant had the fourth-highest PPG in the league in the 1974-75 ABA season. Unfortunately, Grant had another injury (i.e., knee injury) and only played 53 games. This was also the only season the Conquistadors didn't make the playoffs, so we'll never see how well Grant played.


Grant did not stay with the team when they rebranded to the San Diego Sails. He signed with the Kentucky Colonels, but 22 games into his season with the Colonels, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers in 1976.


Although filled with potential, at only 26, Grant retired from professional basketball.


1972-74 ABA Season Results

As said earlier, although the San Diego Conquistadors had a negative regular-season record each season, they would still make the playoffs twice. Did they perform well in the playoffs?


No.


1972-73: First Playoff Appearance

In their first season in the ABA, the San Diego Conquistador's went 30-54 (35.7 W/L%). Even with a 35.7 W/L%, they were still the fourth seed in the Western Conference, earning a spot in the playoffs.


The Conquistadors' had the worst offensive rating in the league (97.7). Their defensive rating wasn't any better. Their defensive rating was right in the middle of the pack, ranked fifth out of ten ABA teams (101.6).

Besides Stew Johnson, the second-best player was Chuck Williams. Williams averaged:


17.7 Points, 2.8 Rebounds, 7.0 Assists

47.8 FG%, 14.3 3P%, 79.1 FT%

37.0 Minutes


Williams led the league in assists per game this season!


Although Stew Johnson and Chuck Williams were both All-Stars this season, the Conquistador's didn't have that 'Star' player that could carry a game whenever the team needed him to. For example:

  • Carolina Cougars: Billy Cunningham (24.1 Points, 12.0 Rebounds, 6.3 Assists)

  • Utah Stars: Willie Wise (22.0 Points, 8.2 Rebounds, 3.3 Assists)

  • Kentucky Colonels: Dan Issel (27.3 Points, 11.0 Rebounds, 2.6 Assists)

  • Indiana Pacers: George McGinnis (27.6 Points, 12.5 Rebounds, 2.5 Assists)

These are the top players from the ABA's top 4 teams during the 1972-73 ABA season. Although Stew Johnson and Chuck Williams were good, they were nowhere near these players.


Although they didn't have Superstars, the Conquistar's roster ran deep. 8/14 of their players scored more than ten points a game:

  • Stew Johnson: 22.1 Points

  • Chuck Williams: 17.7 Points

  • Larry Miller: 14.5 Points

  • Oliver Taylor: 13.7 Points

  • Gene Moore: 11.9 Points

  • Jerry Chambers: 11.9 Points

  • Simmie Hill: 11.0 Points

  • Red Robbins: 9.9 Points (basically 10)

In the first round of the playoffs, the San Diego Conquistadors were against the Utah Stars. The Conquistadors didn't stand a chance and were swept, 4-0.


The closest the Conquistadors got to winning a Game was in Game 3. They only lost by one point, 96-97.

Also, no one stood out for the Conquistadors in this series. Chuck Williams played slightly better, while Stew Johnson played slightly worse. The only player that played better in the playoffs was Red Robbins. He averaged:


12.3 Points, 7.5 Rebounds, 3.0 Assists

38.5 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 50.0 FT%

34.8 Minutes


1973-74: Best Playoff Run

The San Diego Conquistador's had their best regular-season and playoff run in their second season in the ABA. The Conquistador's went 37-47 (44.0 W/L%) in the regular season. Although still the fourth seed, this was a seven-game improvement from last season.

This season, although the Conquistador's offensive rating would be better (102.9), they still had the fourth-worst offensive rating in the league. In addition, their defensive rating got worse. It went from 101.2 in the 1972-73 ABA season to 105.2 this season (higher is worse).


The only statistic that changed drastically was the Conquistador's PPG. Last season, it was 109.0, which put them second to last in PPG. This season, it was 113.2, which put them first in PPG.

This season, the Top 3 players for the Conquistadors were the previously mentioned Big 3: Bo Lamar, Stew Johnson, and Travis Grant. Since I've already stated Bo Lamar's stat-line this season, I'll only include Stew Johnson's and Travis Grant's stat-line here:

Stew Johnson (1973-74):

20.1 Points, 6.3 Rebounds, 1.5 Assists, 0.9 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks

42.9 FG%, 31.1 3P%, 84.7 FT%

32.0 Minutes


Travis Grant (1973-74):

15.3 Points, 5.3 Rebounds, 1.1 Assists, 0.8 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks

52.4 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 80.1 FT%

23.6 Minutes

Stew Johnson and Bo Lamar were neck-and-neck for the best player on the Conquistadors, but I gave a slight edge to Bo Lamar for his defense.

The only All-Star this season was Stew Johnson.


Although the San Diego Conquistadors were fourth in the Western Conference, the Denver Rockets, also on the Western Conference, had the same regular-season record as the Conquistadors (37-47). As a result, the Conquistadors had to go against the Denver Rockets for a playoff spot.


The Conquistadors would beat the Rockets with ease. They won by twenty points, 131-11. This win was a group effort. Not a single Conquistadors' player scored less than ten points. In addition, three players (Caldwell Jones, Tim Bassett, and George Adams) had more than rebounds, and one player (Jimmy O'Brien) had twelve assists!

The most impressive performance was by Bo Lamar. He put up:

40 Points, 6 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 3 Steals

17/35 FG, 0/3 3P, 6/10 FT

40 Minutes


The following top scorer was Stew Johnson with 28 points.


Although the Denver Rockets lost badly, I still want to point out that their point guard, Al Smith, record 20 ASSISTS in 30 Minutes!

In the first round, the San Diego Conquistadors were once again against the Utah Stars. They lost, but they put up a fight and won two games (2-4).


The only reason why the Conquistadors were able to pull off winning two games was because Lamar played like an MVP during this series. Also, Tim Bassett STEPPED UP during the playoffs.

Lamar's best performance in this series was in Game 2. He put up:

41 Points, 3 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 1 Steal

18/34 FG, 3/6 3P, 2/2 FT

32 Minutes

Unfortunately, they would still lose this game as no one besides Lamar (and Bassett) played well.

Lamar would also have a fantastic Game 6. He put up:


33 Points, 9 Rebounds, 7 Assists

15/34 FG, 1/4 3P, 2/2 FT

38 Minutes


The only time that Lamar scored less than 20 points was in Game 5. He had 14 points but shot horribly (7/21).

Don't worry; I didn't forget about Tim Bassett! During the regular season, Bassett averaged:


6.9 Points, 7.3 Rebounds, 1.3 Assists, 0.7 Steals, and 0.4 Blocks

46.7 FG%, 59.3 FT%

22.6 Minutes


Bassett was only a rookie this season, so these were pretty good numbers. However, in the playoffs, Bassett was given 18 MORE MINUTES of playing time, and his stats went up like crazy:

14.7 Points, 14.8 Rebounds, 3.3 Assists, 0.5 Steals, and 1.2 Blocks

51.9 FG%, 66.7 FT%

40.7 Minutes

While Lamar had his worse performance in Game 5, Basset had his best. He put up:

26 Points, 19 Rebounds, 2 Assists

12/18 FG, 2/3 FT

44 Minutes


1974-75: And It All Goes Down

In the San Diego Conquistador's last season as the Conquistadors, they went 31-53 (36.9 W/L%). Although this is better than their 1972-73 regular-season record, the Conquistadors didn't make the playoffs as they were last in the Western Conference. They were only expected to win 28 games, so they exceeded expectations.


The Conquistadors also had a pretty bad offensive and defensive rating this season. They had the fourth-worst offensive rating (103.0) and the second-worst defensive rating (108.2).

What's interesting is that out of the three seasons, this was probably the San Diego Conquistador's best team. This was the first time they had somewhat of a Big 3: Travis Grant, Bo Lamar, and Caldwell Jones. They averaged (scroll up for Travis Grant's stat-line):


Bo Lamar (1974-75):

20.9 Points, 3.1 Rebounds, 5.5 Assists, 1.7 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks

42.5 FG%, 22.9 3P%, 78.4 FT%

37.9 Minutes

Caldwell Jones (1974-75):

19.5 Points, 14.1 Rebounds, 2.1 Assists, 0.8 Steals, and 3.2 Blocks

48.9 FG%, 27.3 3P%, 78.8 FT%

39.5 Minutes


If Travis Grant, their best player, didn't get injured, I'm pretty sure that the Conquistadors would have made the playoffs this season. Even their fourth-best player, Stew Johnson, played pretty well this season.

The only All-Star this season was Caldwell Jones. He also led the league in blocks this season (and last season)!

Since they weren't in the playoffs, I'll instead highlight the best regular-season game the San Diego Conquistadors had.

Their best game was on February 14th, 1975, against the Julius Erving-led New York Nets. In this game, the score was 176-166! In total, they scored 342 POINTS! If this were in the NBA, this would be the second-highest scoring game in NBA history!


I'm also pretty sure that this was one of the longest games in ABA history as the game went into FOUR OVERTIMES!


Four Conquistadors players scored more than twenty points this game:

  • Bo Lamar: 45 Points

  • Travis Grant: 30 Points

  • Lee Davis: 25 Points

  • Warren Jabali: 22 Points

All of these players shot more than 50% from the field as well!


The most surprising part about this game is that even though the game went into FOUR OVERTIMES, the Conquistadors shot a total of... four three-pointers. Only two went in.


The worst performance was by Caldwell Jones. He played 54 MINUTES and only managed:


11 Points, 14 Rebounds, 2 Assists

4/10 FG, 3/6 FT


Although he wasn't on the Conquistadors, I have to mention this performance. Julius Erving, in 66 MINUTES, put up:

63 Points, 23 Rebounds, and 8 Assists

25/51 FG, 13/19 FT


God Damn.


SAIL!

San Diego Sails

After three seasons, Leonard Bloom would sell the San Diego Conquistadors to Frank Goldberg, the co-owner of the Denver Nuggets. Now in the hands of Goldberg, he decided to rename the San Diego Conquistadors the San Diego Sails.


Besides the name, the San Diego Sails' jerseys were also completely refurbished. The San Diego Conquistadors' jerseys were yellow and red, while the San Diego Sails' jerseys were white, blue, and green.

In addition, Goldberg would also bring in a new head coach, Bill Musselman. However, only eleven games into the season, the San Diego Sails would disband. Within those eleven games, Musselman led the team to a 3-8 record. Based on this record, the San Diego Sails would have won approximately 21-24 games. This would have been San Diego's worst record. Credit: Fun While it Lasted


After his brief stint with the San Diego Sails, Musselman would continue coaching. He coached the Virginia Squires (ABA), Cleveland Cavaliers, and Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA).


Although he had a cool last name, he was a horrible ABA/NBA coach. Here was the teams' records when Musselman was the coach:

  • 1975-76 - San Diego Sails: 3-8

  • 1975-76 - Virginia Squires: 4-22

  • 1980-82 - Cleveland Cavaliers: 27-67

  • 1989-91 - Minnesota Timberwolves: 51-113

At least Musselman was a good CBA and WBA coach, but then again, neither league exists anymore.


Big 1?

Yup. Even though the San Diego Sails' season was only eleven regular-season games long, I still feel inclined to discuss who the best player was within these eleven games. The best player this season (if you can even call it a season) was Bo Lamar.


HOWEVER, Lamar only played six games. After those six games, he ended up going to the Indiana Pacers. So instead of Lamar, we'll choose the next best player that played all ELEVEN games, Dave Robisch.


Dave Robisch was nowhere near as good as the San Diego Conquistadors' Big 3, but that doesn't mean he was terrible. Robisch was drafted in the 1971 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics as the 44th pick. Like everyone else, he played in the ABA for the Denver Rockets from 1971-1975.


Besides the 1973-74 ABA season, Robisch and the Denver Rockets always made the playoffs. In the 1972-73 ABA playoffs, which was Robisch's sophomore season, he averaged:


20.2 Points, 13.6 Rebounds, 1.6 Assists

47.1 FG%, 67.7 FT%

36.8 Minutes


If this were his regular-season stat-line, I would have said he was better than the Conquistador's Big 3.


In just his first four seasons in the ABA, Robisch already had three seasons of playoff experience. In addition, in the 1974-75 ABA season, before Robisch joined the San Diego Sails, the Denver Rockets were the best team in the league (65-19).


Imagine going from that to the San Diego Sails, a team that would disband eleven games into the season.


Pain.


Nevertheless, Robisch would still go off while with the San Diego Sails. In the eleven games, he averaged:


16.5 Points, 11.1 Rebounds, 1.9 Assists, 0.5 Steals, and 1.0 Blocks

44.8 FG%, 87.1 FT%

34.0 Minutes


Not necessarily All-Star numbers, but still really good!


Robisch's best performance with the San Diego Sails was on November 7th, 1975, against the Kentucky Colonels. He put up:


31 Points, 10 Rebounds, 1 Assist

31 Minutes


Finally, for some reason, Dave Robisch's nickname was Polio. Not the best nickname.


The 11 Game Regular-Season

During the San Diego Sail's 1975-76 ABA season, they went 3-8 and would disband. Within those eleven games, they had the worst offensive rating (98.5). However, surprisingly, the Sails had the third-best defensive rating (103.1).


Interestingly, the team that always beat the San Diego Conquistadors in the playoffs, the Utah Stars, would also disband this season. They played sixteen games before being disbanded and went 4-12, so they weren't any good either.


In two of three games that the San Diego Sails won, they were against pretty bad teams, the Utah Stars and Virginia Squires.


In the game against the Utah Stars, the Sails won 99-97. Bo Lamar, Caldwell Jones, and Mark Olberding scored more than twenty points this game:

  • Bo Lamar: 29 Points

  • Caldwell Jones: 22 Points

  • Mark Oldberding: 21 Points

In the game against the Virginia Squires, the Sails won 118-104. This win wasn't attributed to a few players doing well, but because the whole team played well. Everybody besides Joby Wright and Tom Ingelsby scored more than ten points this game:

  • Bob Warren: 20 Points

  • Dave Robisch: 19 Points

  • Patrick McFarland: 18 Points

  • Mark Oldberding: 17 Points

  • Stew Johnson: 14 Points

  • Caldwell Jones: 12 Points

  • Kevin Joyce: 10 Points

Fun Fact: After the San Diego Sails disbanded, Bill Musselman went to coach the Virginia Squires and had an even worse regular-season record, 4-22.

In one of three games that the San Diego Sails won, it was actually against a good team, the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs went 50-34 in the 1975-75 ABA season and unliked the Utah Stars and Virginia Squires; still exist!


In the game against the San Antonio Spurs, the San Diego Sails won 105-102. Like the game against the Virginia Squires, everybody played well. Four players scored more than fifteen points:

  • Bob Warren: 20 Points

  • Patrick McFarland: 18 Points

  • Dave Robisch: 17 Points

  • Kevin Joyce: 16 Points

Although the San Diego Sails beat the Spurs, their worst loss within the eleven games was also against the Spurs. The Sails lost 76-99 against the Spurs, a 23 point loss. Five players on the Sails shot less than 37.5% from the field:

  • Mark Oldberding: 36.4 FG%

  • Kevin Joyce: 31.3 FG%

  • Stew Johnson: 28.6 FG%

  • Dave Robisch: 25.0 FG%

  • Patrick McFarland: 20.0 FG%

The San Diego Sails may have been an NBA team, but Jack Kent Cooke, the then-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, didn't want another team based in Southern California. Ironic how now there are two teams in Los Angeles.


And just like that, the San Diego Sails ceased to exist.




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