Carolina Cougars was 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 three forgettable seasons in Houston. The Cougars' colors were green, blue, and white.
The history of the Carolina Cougars franchise began when the former Houston ABA franchise was relocated to North Carolina in 1969. During the 1970s, North Carolina did not have a large primary metropolitan area to base a professional sports franchise, so the team's ownership decided to have the teams play its home games in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh as a "regional team".
Early on, the Carolina Cougars were not especially successful on the court, posting a 42_42 record in the 1969_1970 season, a 34-50 record in 1970-1971, and a 35-49 record in 1971-1972. Only the '69-'70 Cougars managed to make the ABA playoffs but lost in the Eastern Division Semifinals (first round) to a much stronger Indiana Pacers team. In spite of this, the Cougars had a good fan following, particularly in Greensboro.
In 1972-1973, the Carolina Cougars hired retired ABA players Larry Brown and former Cougar Doug Moe as coaches. The '72-'73 Cougars were fairly talented and featured players future broadcaster Steve "Snapper" Jones, Gene Littles, and Ed Manning (father of Danny Manning). Carolina went on to post a 57_27 record, which was the best in the Eastern Division and the entire ABA as well. The Cougars beat the New York Nets in their first-round playoff series 4-1, but lost a close series to the Kentucky Colonels 4_3 in the Eastern Division finals.
The 1973_1974 season proved to be the last for the Carolina Cougars in North Carolina. 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. Later in 1974, the Carolina Cougars were moved to Missouri and became the Spirits of St. Louis until the ABA folded in 1976. The Cougars were moderately successful overall and had more supportive fans than many other ABA franchises; nonetheless, even those elements were not enough to keep the Cougars from relocating. Professional basketball would return to North Carolina in 1988 when the Charlotte Hornets entered the NBA; the Charlotte Bobcats began their inaugural NBA season in 2004_2005.
- Remember the ABA: Carolina Cougars (http://www.remembertheaba.com/Carolina-Cougars.html)