LEWIS | Colonels celebrate history and hope pro hoops returns
ABA Champion Artis Gilmore was among the players meeting fans as the Kentucky Colonels marked the 50th anniversary of the team's founding. Gilmore says he hopes the NBA returns to Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky Colonels franchise died with the ABA, but the passion from fans appears to be alive and well.
Hundreds of fans lined up at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center Tuesday night to get autographs from members of all nine Colonels teams. The event was part of a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the team.
“We had some games there weren’t that many people in the stands watching us,” Dan Issel said while checking out the line of fans waiting to meet the players.
Issel, who played for the Colonels from 1970 to 1975, is now the president of NBA to Louisville, an organization dedicated to bringing an NBA franchise to the Derby City. Issel said originally, it appeared the issue was finding an ownership group to finance a team. He says since being named president of the movement in February, he’s discovered that’s not necessarily the case.
“There are a lot of people out there who are interested in owning an NBA team, a number of people interested in owning an NBA team in Louisville. That’s not going to be the big hurdle. The big hurdle’s going to be is if the NBA decides to expand and what our competition is going to be,” Issel said.
Artis Gilmore, who played for the 1974-75 Kentucky team that won the ABA championship, believes the turnout for Tuesday’s event is evidence that there’s still passion for professional basketball in Louisville.
“They love basketball here and they love being competitive and that’s probably part of the reason, hopefully very soon, they’ll be able to receive another franchise here in Louisville,” Gilmore said.
The Kentucky Colonels and Louisville City FC are the honorary grand marshals for the 2018 Pegasus Parade.
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