The San Diego Conquistadors
, nicknamed the "Q's", were an American Basketball Association
team based in San Diego, California
. They were the only expansion team
in the history of the ABA. The team played from 1972 to 1975. They were replaced in the ABA by the San Diego Sails
San Diego Conquistadors -- The Q's
was founded by Leonard Bloom. But a feud between Bloom and Peter Graham, proprietor of the city-owned, the 14,400 seat San Diego Sports Arena
, led Graham to lock the newborn team out of the facility for two years. By the time the conflict was resolved in the fall of 1974
, it was too late for a weakened franchise that had been forced to play, in the interim, at such bandboxes as Peterson Gym
(3,200 seats) and Golden Hall, a mere ballroom
After reaching the 1973 ABA Playoffs in their inaugural season, the Q's seemingly pulled off a coup by paying the Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain $600,000 to play and coach in 1973-74. But the Los Angeles Lakers sued to block their former star from playing for his new team; relegated to a sideline role, Chamberlain was reduced to an indifferent, 7-foot-1-inch sideshow who once skipped a game in favor of an autograph session for his recently published autobiography. (His fill-in, on that and other occasions, was Stan Albeck, who later skippered the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets of the NBA.) Nonetheless, the team again reached the postseason, bowing out in the first round, for the second year in a row, in the 1974 ABA Playoffs.
For their third and final season in 1974-75 the Conquistadors lost Chamberlain and finally gained their place in the San Diego Sports Arena. But without Chamberlain as a gate attraction, the team was roundly ignored by San Diegans, and placed last in the Western Division, missing the 1975 ABA Playoffs.
Bloom sold the franchise during the summer of 1975 to Frank Goldberg, a former co-owner of the successful Denver Nuggets
franchise. Goldberg started anew in San Diego with a team called the San Diego Sails
. Goldberg hired former University of Minnesota
coach Bill Musselman
and, with a completely different roster, color scheme, set of uniforms and just about everything else, sought to repeat Denver's turnaround, in 1974-75, from mediocrity to championship contender.