Monday, October 7, 2013

ESPN documentary on 1970s ABA Spirits of St Louis

The latest installment of the fantastic ESPN 30 for 30 series focuses on the legendary Spirits of St Louis ABA franchise. The 60-minute documentary Free Spirits debuts Tuesday 10/8 at 8 pm ET on ESPN with several replays scheduled on the ESPN family of networks. The ESPN video site has a preview clip of this episode which I am greatly anticipating.

On the court, members of the Spirits included:
  • Marvin "Bad News" Barnes - one of the most talented players and colorful characters of the era
  • Moses Malone - member of the Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Steve "Snapper" Jones - who became a longtime NBA television analyst
  • Mike D'Antoni - future NBA coach
  • James "Fly" Williams - also one of the players profiled in the tremendous 1970s book Heaven is a Playground by Rick Telander
The team's assistant general manager was Rudy Martzke who later became the sports TV columnist for USA Today. To fill the radio play-by-play role, Martzke hired Bob Costas who was fresh out of Syracuse University. Not surprisingly, Martzke and Costas are among the interview subjects in the documentary.

Here is Costas with the radio simulcast call of part of a 1976 Spirits game against the Kentucky Colonels. His broadcast partner is Arlene Weltman - wife of team president Harry Weltman.

Finally, the Silna brothers who owned the franchise negotiated perhaps the greatest financial contract of all time during the NBA-ABA merger.

For more about the history of the ABA, check out the fabulous book Loose Balls by Terry Pluto and a website devoted to remembering the wild 9-year run of this upstart league.

No comments:

Post a Comment