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Carolina Cougars (ABA)

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The Carolina Cougars were a basketball franchise in the former American Basketball Association that existed from late 1969 through 1974. The Cougars were originally a charter member of the ABA as the Houston Mavericks in 1967. The Mavericks moved to North Carolina in late 1969 after two unsuccessful seasons in Houston at the Sam Houston Coliseum. The Cougars' colors were green, blue, and white.

Move to St. Louis

Due to injuries and internal squabbles, the '73-'74 Cougars posted a 47-37 record but was swept in the Eastern Division semifinals 4-0 by the Kentucky Colonels.

It turned out to be the Cougars' last season in North Carolina. Although they were moderately successful overall and had one of the most loyal fan bases in the ABA, talks toward a ABA-NBA merger were in the final stages, and it had become apparent that a "regional" franchise would not be viable in the NBA. Although the Charlotte/Greensboro/Raleigh axis (the Piedmont Crescent or I-85 Corridor) was beginning an unprecedented period of growth that still continues to this day, neither city was big enough at the time to support an NBA team on its own. Additionally, several persons quoted in the book Loose Balls by Terry Pluto say the added travel expenses incurred by the regional concept ultimately proved insurmountable. Munchak sold the Cougars to a consortium of New York businessmen who moved to St. Louis as the Spirits of St. Louis. The Spirits were one of two teams that lasted until the very end of the league but not join the NBA; the other was the Kentucky Colonels. (The Virginia Squires folded after the final ABA regular season ended but before the ABA-NBA merger due to their inability to meet a league-mandated financial assessment after the season ended.) At the time of the ABA-NBA merger the Spirits' owners planned to move the team to Salt Lake City, Utah to play as the Utah Rockies.