April 14, 2011
As the Sixers prepare to
get destroyed by give it their all against the Miami Heat, I thought we’d take a look back at Miami’s former pro basketball team, the Miami Floridians. (In truth, after an inaugural season in Miami, they became just the Floridians, because they became a team of barnstormers, playing home games all over the state, though they maintained Miami as a home base.) The real stars in Miami in the late 60s-early 70s weren’t the players however, but the famous Floridian Ballgirls. According to the site remembertheaba.com, the ballgirls “were probably more famous than the basketball team itself!”
The team was also known for it’s wacky promotions. This is from the Floridians history page on remembertheaba.com (highly recommended link if you want to learn more about the team):
Other Floridians promtions included these creative giveaways: live turkeys for Thanksgiving, 15 pounds of smoked fish (to one lucky fan!), 57 pounds of Irish potatoes, 53 pumpkin pies, vats of gefilte fish, kegs of beer…
Who knows how many more fans the Sixers would have had at their games this year if they had given away gefilte fish! In 1969, after a year playing in front of sparse crowds at Miami Beach, the team moved their home games into an aircraft hangar and a junior college gym. They then took the team on the road. To no avail. The people of South Florida simply weren’t interested in pro basketball. The Floridians played their final games in the 1972 ABA Playoffs against future Sixer star Julius Erving and the Virginia Squires. The rookie with the afro smoked the Floridians, reeling in 30 or more rebounds 3 times in the series. When the Squires completed the sweep with a 115-106 win in Game 4 in front of a Miami crowd of about 3,000, basketball shuttered its windows and wouldn’t reopen for business until the Heat played their first game in 1988. The Heat have honored the Floridians a few times, however, wearing their jerseys, which were actually pretty sweet. One of the few teams ever to incorporate pink into their outfits.