Indianapolis Jets HISTORY

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Quick facts:

Founded:  1931
Folded:   1949
Arena:    Hinkle Feildhouse
Built in: 1928
Capacity: 15,000
Formerly: Indiana Kautskys
Titles:   None
Playoffs: 1

In 1931 an Indianapolis grocer named Frank Kautsky formed a professional basketball team and named it the Indianapolis Kautskys. After playing in the National Professional Basketball League (1932-33) and the Midwest Basketball Conference (1935-37), the Kautskys became one of the original members of the National Basketball League (NBL) in 1937.

The Kautsky's first game was in Kokomo, Indiana on November 24, 1931, which also happened to be Thanksgiving evening, where the Kautskys beat the Kokomo 66ers by a score of 37-18. Their first home game was not until December 11th, where they beat the Fort Wayne Firemen 31-17 in front of about 1,00 fans. Seats were sold for 40 cents on the portable bleachers and 25 cents in the balcony; children under 10 were admitted for free. In both games the Kautskys were lead by star John Wooden.

In one of the earliest recorded Christmas Day games, the Kautskys defeated the Ciesar Whiting All-Americans 44-33 behind Wooden's 13 points. It was one of Wooden's last professional games, He is listed in three more box scores than without fanfare vanishes from the record.

The Jim White Chevrolets and the Indianapolis Kautskys were playing a day game on December 7, 1941 when the loud speaker came on an informed the audience that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor.

Frank Kautsky decided after the 1942 season to suspend operations of his team due to the onset of World War II. He took a lot of public backlash but held tight to his decision. He did, however, operate the team in the world basketball tournament and as an independent named the Indianapolis Pure Oil. He restarted the team at wars end and is one of the only early teams to ever suspend operations and successful restart them years later.

The team was one of four (along with the Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, and Fort Wayne Pistons) that jumped to the BAA for the 1948-49 season. At that time the team's name was changed to the Indianapolis Jets because the BAA did not allow its teams to have commercial sponsors.

After the 1948-49 season the BAA and the NBL merged to form the National Basketball Association. The Indianapolis Olympians had already been admitted into the NBL, effective with the 1949-50 season. Since the merger meant that there would be two teams from Indianapolis, the Jets ceased operations in favor of the Olympians

124 Free throws in a row:
During the inaugural season of the Midwest Basketball League (1935-36), Kautskys star guard John Wooden would make 124 consecutive free throws, which is still the record today for pro basketball in the United States. The current NBA record is 97 by Michael Williams of Minnesota in 1993.

After making his 99th in a row, owner Frank Kautky, stopped the game and handed Wooden a $100 dollar bill. The money was promptly taken by Wooden's wife.

Wooden Brothers:
John Wooden is one of the most famous people to ever be associated with basketball. His brother Maurice "Cat" Wooden is not. However, Cat Wooden was almost as good as his brother, John, but had a shorter playing career. The elder Wooden, Cat, would get into coaching high school while still playing with the Kautskies in 1936. He would eventually go on to coach New Mexico State Teachers College, now Western New Mexico University, for one season before joining his brother out west in California.

History of early professional basketball in Indiana

Before the Indiana Pacers joined the ABA and eventually the NBA, the state of Indiana was the hot bed of professional basketball. From 1935 until 1953 the state hosted no less than 11 different teams in the major professional basketball leagues. Unfortunately, almost all of them would end and leave the state with no professional basketball teams for nearly two decades.

Indiana is synonymy with the game of basketball. The University of Indiana is one of the most storied programs in all of college basketball winning 5 NCAA titles, but it was Purdue who would bring the state its first NCAA basketball title in 1932.

Through out the early years of basketball a lot of fly by night leagues and teams called Indiana home, in fact Indiana even had its own semi-pro league of teams completely made up of teams in the Indianapolis region. It was not until 1935 when the Midwest Basketball Conference formed did the state of Indiana start seeing regular professional basketball at the highest levels and quality

Complete Article

Year Team Name League W L Post season
1931-32 Indianapolis Kautsky IND ? ? ?
1932-33 Indianapolis Kautsky NPBL 7 4 DNQ
1933-34 Indianapolis Kautsky IND ? ? ?
1935-36 Indianapolis Kautsky MBC 9 3 Lost Round Robin
1936-37 Indianapolis Kautsky MBC 2 5 DNQ
1937-38 Indianapolis Kautsky NBL 4 9 DNQ
1938-39 Indianapolis Kautsky NBL 13 13 DNQ
1939-40 Indianapolis Kautsky NBL 9 19 DNQ
1940-41 Indianapolis Pure Oil IND ? ? ?
1941-42 Indianapolis Kautsky NBL 12 11 0-2
1942-43 Indianapolis Pure Oil IND ? ? ?
1943-44 Indianapolis Pure Oil IND ? ? ?
1945-46 Indianapolis Kautsky NBL 10 22 DNQ
1946-47 Indianapolis Kautsky NBL 27 17 2-3
1947-48 Indianapolis Kautsky NBL 24 35 1-3
1948-49 Indianapolis Jets BAA 18 42 DNQ

1949 Kautskys

Hinkle Feildhouse

John Wooden

John Wooden

Arnie Risen

Kautsky's T-shirt

Frank Baird

Kautskys vs Bruins circa 1940

Kautsky's promotional ads circa late 1920s

Leo Klier

Dave Williams.

Ralph Hamilton playing for the Jets

Program cover for a game between the Jets and Bullets

Jets Roster

Game Program from a game between the Boston Celtics and Indanapolis Jets on February 4, 1949.


NBA History
John Wooden as a player
Indiana Hoops HOF