Any sports fan from Buffalo, N.Y. over the age of 50 still has a soft spot in their heart for the NBA Buffalo Braves.
Although the franchise remained in Buffalo only eight years and the last year was a basketball version of the movie "Major League," (new out of town ownership selling off the stars to kill attendance and justify a move), the team made its indelible mark on the hearts and memories of fans who often filled and always rocked the old "Aud" until the team's fate was cast.
The Buffalo Braves were known for their up-tempo style of play, three NBA Rookies of the Year, and consecutive scoring titles by a young and emerging Bob McAdoo.
The team's identity is closely tied to Randy Smith a seventh-round draft pick from Buffalo State who turned a courtesy training camp invitation into a record-setting NBA iron man career.
(See a related article referencing the signing of Smith at B/R: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/161481-buffalo-dreaming-local-color-for-the-draft-and-beyond )
The Buffalo Braves came to an abrupt end when the franchise was moved to San Diego, before finally landing in Los Angeles as the Clippers.
The existence of numerous websites and web pages about the old Braves is a testament to the depth and persistence of Braves' fans loyalty, now 31 years after the team left their first love in the lurch. (This link provides links to numerous other sites devoted to the Braves: http://buffaloex-pat.com/braves.aspx )
Add to that list of websites, a new limited edition, 216-page hardcover coffee table book, "Buffalo, Home of the Braves," from SunBear Press. The book will be published in a limited quantity of 1500 copies and will be available beginning May 30.
The book, written by Tim Wendel, tells the story of a team of immense promise that would ultimately be squandered by an impatient ownership.
It chronicles Buffalo's meteoric rise as a National Basketball Association franchise from 1970-78, featuring 250 vintage color and black and white photos along with interviews with key players (McAdoo, Smith, Ernie DiGregorio), coach Dr. Jack Ramsay, team founder and owner Paul Snyder, and team play-by-play announcer Van Miller.
Wendel received a great deal of help writing and compiling the book from John Boutet of Buffalo Sports Museum.
Boutet has a sizable collection of memorabilia of nearly every professional sports team ever to play in Buffalo, with his Braves collection being the largest and most extensive.
Boutet continues to seek a physical space to display his collection, but currently his institution is a virtual museum. http://www.buffalosportsmuseum.com/
Sale of the book will launch with a book signing at New Era Cap Co., 160 Delaware Avenue, in Downtown Buffalo, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, the 30th. Boutet's Braves memorabilia will be on display at this event.