OKC history: The Myriad’s first sporting event
The night of Nov. 1, 2005, was huge for Oklahoma City. The displaced Hornets hosted the Sacramento Kings in the first regular-season NBA game in OKC history. The Ford Center was packed and began a progression to what we see now, with the Thunder an Oklahoma City staple and an NBA success story.
But Hornets-Kings was not the first major-league basketball game in Oklahoma City.
On Nov. 8, 1972, a night after Nixon beat McGovern for the White House, the Dallas Chaparrals beat the Memphis Tams 126-118 in an ABA game played in front of 3,175 fans. It was the first sporting event played in the Myriad, the glittering downtown arena that opened that year and remains a cool place to catch a hockey game, an occasional concert or even the Big 12 women’s basketball tournament, when it rotates through town.
The Myriad would make its concert debut two nights later with Henry Mancini. But on that Wednesday night, with tickets priced at $5.50, $4.50 and $3.50, the American Basketball Association came to Oklahoma City. The Tams eventually went out of business, the Chaparrals eventually moved to San Antonio and became the Spurs, and the Myriad eventually became a bastion for college basketball. Including a rousing All-College Tournament seven weeks later.
But for that night, pro basketball ruled. No big names on either team, unless you count Memphis’ Johnny Neumann, who left Ole Miss early to turn pro. The Tams were coached by Bob Bass, who had coached Oklahoma Baptist University to an NAIA title in the ’60s and who would become a cornerstone of the Spurs and Hornets franchises.
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