Indianapolis Olympians HISTORY

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Season Records


Quick facts:

Founded:  1949
Folded:   1953
Arena:    Hinkle Feildhouse
Built in: 1928
Capacity: 15,000
Titles:   None
Playoffs: 4

1949-53 NBA Indianapolis Olympians 

Coachs: 3 
Cliff Barker    1949-50 
Wally Jones     1950-51 
Herm Schaefer   1951-53 

Fun Facts:
Played the longest game in NBA History, a six overtime game against the Royals on 1/6/51; a game the Olypians won 75-73.

Because of the length of the game the Olympians missed their train to Chicago. The team instead took a train to Detroit where they chartered a flight to Molina, IL. Unfortunately, the plane could only accommodate 5 players, so the Olympians sent their starting 5 and the rest of the team had to take a bus. The bus arrived shortly after the game against the Blackhawks had ended and thus marking the only time in NBA history where a team has used only 5 players.

The NBA rulebook will never allow this to happen again, as every team must suit up 8 players.

Not so fun Facts:
The Olympians star players Alex Groza, and Ralph Beard were both suspended by NBA commisioner Maurice Podoloff for point shaving in their college careers.

The Olympians became the first team to ever be owned by NBA players and the only team to be owned by players who were currently playing when Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Cliff Barker and Wally Jones bought the team in 1949. Under the ownership of the players the team was successful both on and off the court. The success ended when Beard and Groza were arrested for a point shaving scandal while at the University of Kentucky. Both Beard and Groza were convicted and ordered to stay away from basketball for 3 years. Following their conviction NBA president Maurice Podoloff hit the duo with one of the harshest penalties in NBA history. Both were barred from the NBA for life, and were forced to sell their stake in the Olympians at a substantial loss.

First True Neutral Site Game in NBA History
The first NBA game that was truely played outside of an NBA market was on January 30, 1950, in Louisville, Kentucky. The Syracuse Nationals beat the Indianapolis Olmypians 91-75.

Previously, the NBA had played in smaller nearby cities but had never gone so far from a home teams market.

Dolph Schayes lead all scorers with 24 points and former Kentucky Wildcat Alex Groza lead the Olympians with 19 points. The game was played in Louisville due to the connections between the Kentucky Wildcats and Olympians. Six of the Olympian players had attended the University of Kentucky, the six players were Cliff Barker, Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Joe Holland, Wah Wah Jones, and Jack Parkinson. Several of the players were also part owner of the Olympians.

The NBA's 6 Overtime Game

Sometimes a game can seem like it never ends. The last two minutes of a game can take thirty minutes in real life minutes, but the game usually ends in regulation and occasionally goes into overtime. But on January 6, 1951 it seemed like a game between the Indianapolis Olympians and Rochester Royals would never end.

On May 5, 2019 the Portland Trailblazers outlasted the Denver Nuggets 140-137 in four overtime, but that game would pail in comparison to the January 6th game. On that cold night in Rochester the Olympians beat the Royals 75-73, in SIX OVERTIMES!

The six overtime periods is still a record for the NBA. The game broke the record set a year earlier when the Syracuse Nationals outlasted the Anderson Packers in five overtimes. The NBA was still in its infancy at the time

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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

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Hinkle Fieldhouse

Model Monica Lewis with the Olympians.

Raplh Beards uniform

Olympians vs Milwaukee Hawks poster

Nuggets vs Olympians

Bob Zawoluk on the cover of a game program.


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