Who were the Minnesota Muskies?

The American Basketball Association remains one of the most entertaining inventions in the history of sports. "Loose Balls", a short history of the ABA by Terry Pluto is one of my favorite books ever, if only for all the anecdotes about Marvin “Bad News” Barnes.

This season, teams in the NBA have been paying tribute to former ABA teams in their city, one of the most interesting being Minnesota’s homage to the Muskies, one of the original ABA teams.

The existence of the Minnesota Muskies was one of strange circumstamces. It started with the hiring of Minneapolis Lakers legend George Mikan as the commissioner of the ABA. Because his real estate career and family were situated in Minneapolis, the league’s headquarters were set up there to accomodate Mikan.

As a result, the league decided it’d make sense to put a team in the city.

The Muskies played well on the court, but struggled with bringing in attendance, with a total of 100 season ticket holders and averaging 2,800 fans per game.

According to public relations employee Dick Jonckowski : "A woman called the office and asked what time a game started. I asked her, ‘What time can you get here?’"

The Muskies had the second best record in the league, but after losing in the playoffs, the team relocated to Miami in hopes of better revenue at the gates.

For Jonckowski, the return of the Muskies jerseys on the court are a welcomed sight: “I just think it is a great idea. More and more people seem to like the throwbacks and the nostalgia stuff. People seem to like the old days coming back and I think is a perfect example of it. I think it is great.”

While for some, the Muskies remain an afterthought. After sporting the throwback jerseys in a loss to the Knicks, Timberwolves center Anthony Tolliver remarked: "I’m still trying to figure out what a Muskie is."

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