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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: First night, first win

   October 14, 1970 -- It's Opening Night for the Buffalo Braves, as they play the first regular-season game in their history. As an added treat, they win it -- a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The win came 30 years to the day after Memorial Auditorium.

   Coach Dolph Schayes sent out a mixture of experience and youth for the opening tip-off. Dick Garrett might have been the best-known player on the roster. He had been a starter for the Los Angeles Lakers when they lost to the New York Knicks in the NBA finals the previous spring.

   Speaking of the Knicks, they contributed two starters. Don May was the star of a Dayton team that lost to UCLA in the NCAA finals. Nate Bowman was the center, and essentially been Willis Reed's caddy during the championship season. The other starters were Herm Gilliam, a promising guard, and John Hummer, the team's top draft choice.

   The combination worked well enough on this night. Bowman hit a jumper to put Buffalo ahead for good at 12-10. May had 24 points in 35 minutes, setting a career high in scoring. Garrett added 20, including the first basket in franchise history.

   As a footnote, the Braves used 14 players in the game, as the new teams -- Buffalo, Cleveland and Portland -- were allowed to use expanded rosters. Therefore, the Braves set an NBA record in their first game that has never broken.

   For more on the Braves' first season, click here.

--- Budd Bailey


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.