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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: John Y. Brown

(Born December 28, 1933) -- There’s little doubt that John Y. Brown led an interesting life. There’s also little doubt that the basketball fans of Western New York would have voted him for Governor.

Brown graduated from the University of Kentucky’s law school, and defended Paul Hornung when the football star was suspended from the NFL for gambling. In 1964 Brown was part of a group that purchased Kentucky Fried Chicken, and they turned it into one of the largest restaurant chains in the country.

In the 1970s, Brown moved into the basketball world with the purchase of the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA. That team didn’t make it into the NBA when the two leagues merged, but Brown got there anyway by buying a portion of the Buffalo Braves.

Brown eventually took complete control of the team, and made few friends locally by listing possible destinations for the team if its stay here didn’t work out. Brown made several player moves in an effort to improve the roster, but few worked out. The team ended up in San Diego, but Brown took control of the Celtics for a short time in a complicated transaction.

Brown turned to politics and was announced his candidacy for Governor while on his honeymoon to former Miss America Phyllis George. He won a four-year term in 1979.

--- Budd Bailey

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