Terrible Ownership Dooms Pipers
In the end, it was indecisive ownership and poor home attendance that would doom Pittsburgh’s one and only basketball champion. Following the team’s only championship in their first year of existence, Minnesota businessman Bill Erikson bought a majority share of the team and was determined to move them to his home state.
After the team moved, fans felt betrayed. The excitement surrounding professional basketball had all but left the city, and although the team returned in 1970, they would not have nearly the same success. However, Hawkins was not with team when they returned to Pittsburgh. He decided to leave the team after an injury-filled season and found a suitor in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
Erikson felt he could re-brand the team, starting with their name. He allowed fans to give their say on the new logo and mascot, but very few entries were presented. In 1971, the Pittsburgh Condors were formed. After a failed publicity attempt in which the team played an exhibition against the then NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks along with another poor start to the season, General Manager Mark Binstein fired his head coach. Binstein searched far and wide for a new coach, only to settle on what he saw in the mirror. The move ultimately backfired and attendance dropped under 1,000, spelling doom for the Condors.
The team folded in 1972. Pittsburgh hasn’t been considered for a professional basketball franchise since. Hopefully that changes in the near future.