Celebrating The Utah Stars ABA Championship 50th Anniversary

May 18, 2021, 5:35 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Utah Stars winning their lone ABA championship, beating the Kentucky Colonels in Salt Lake City on May 18, 1971.

The Stars were in their inaugural season in Utah as a member of the American Basketball Association when they won the title. The team beat the Colonels squad in seven games, capped with a 131-121 victory in Game 7 at the Salt Palace.

Future Hall of Famer Zelmo Beaty had 36 points and 16 rebounds in the Stars win while three-time All-Star Willie Wise added 22 points and 20 boards.

Wise, joined by current Utah Jazz radio color analyst Ron Boone caught up with KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen to reflect on that championship back in 1971.

“When we won the ball game, I don’t know what happened,” Boone said. “I was so excited I jetted off the floor then I realized that I had to run back on the floor to get into the celebration.”

The Salt Palace didn’t seat that many fans back then but the environment was incredible according to Boone.

“The crowd was unbelievable,” Boone stated. “You are talking about playing at the Salt Palace with 12,000 seats and the crowd was right there on top of you. It was a huge celebration.”

After winning the ABA championship, Stars fans hoisted Wise and Beaty above the crowd.

“I remember clearly,” Wise said. “I don’t remember who hoisted me up but it was Zelmo (Beaty) and I. I think there was a mutual adoration with the fans.”

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