This is a picture of an ABA basketball with the words: The Houston Mavericks in front of it.

The Houston Mavericks: A Complete Franchise History

The Houston Mavericks were one of the 11 original ABA teams. The Mavs failed on the court with losing records in both their seasons. They were worse off the court, drawing almost no fan interest in Houston. The team was sold and moved after their second season becoming the Carolina Cougars. 

Who were the Houston Mavericks?

The Houston Mavericks were one of the original eleven ABA teams. The ABA was a professional basketball league in the 1960s & 1970’s that arose to challenge the still-struggling NBA.

The Mavericks were owned by Houston businessman T.C. Morrow. One of the minority owners was Bud Adams, the owner of the Houston Oilers football team. 

The Mavericks played home games at the Houston Coliseum. 

The team made a seemingly good opening move by hiring NBA Hall of Fame player, and Houston native, Slater Martin as their coach. 

This is a picture of NBA basketball player Slater Martin. He is dribbling a ball in his right hand.
Slater Martin

Martin had been a 7x NBA All Star and 5x NBA Champion as a player. 

But Martin was not able to do much good for the upstart Mavericks.  His struggles were mostly due to ownership being unwilling to spend the money needed to make a professional basketball team work. 

The evidence of this problem was obvious from the beginning of the franchise. Martin went to the ABA’s first player draft to represent the franchise. 

He was unable to pick players in the first four rounds of the draft, however, because the team’s owners had not posted the required $30,000 franchise fee.

Left to scramble for players, Martin settled for less than the best and it showed up in the team’s results.

On the court the team went from bad to worse in their two seasons in existence. The team snuck into the playoffs their first season but were swept by the Dallas Chaparrals in their only playoff series. 

Off the court, somehow, things were even worse. The franchise could not draw any fan interest. 

In their first season the team often saw crowds under or around 500 people in the Houston Coliseum that held nearly 7000 fans. 

This is a picture of the Houston Mavericks 1968-1969 schedule.

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Official attendance was recorded at about 1500 fans per game. Even that number was likely inflated. It still left the team in last place for ABA attendance. 

Over the summer, the owner T.C. Morrow made some attempts to sign players of interest including University of Houston star Elvin Hayes. Those attempts failed and the prospects for the team seemed dire.

Morrow decided to give up. He informed the league he would not be investing any more funds in the team. He  but was convinced to turn the Mavericks back over to the league. 

The ABA itself, led by commissioner George Mikan, ran the team for part of their second season. The interference by league officials angered coach Slater Martin who resigned shortly after the 1968-1969 season began.

Martin was replaced but the team continued to struggle. In their second season they finished nearly last in the ABA and did not make the playoffs.

In January of their second season, the ABA found a buyer for the Houston Mavericks. Businessman Jim Gardner led a group that paid $650,000 for the team with the intent of moving them to North Carolina.

Gardner agreed to let the team finish the season in Houston and they limped to their end in front of tiny crowds. The official attendance for the second season was around 1100 fans but the first half attendance was inflated by team officials with the hope of finding a buyer.

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After the sale, the team was less willing to blatantly lie about attendance and official attendance was reported to be around 400 people. 

The Houston Mavericks lone franchise highlight is appropriately obscure. 

The team hit what was believed to be a professional basketball record of 43 straight free throws. The streak started with 7 straight in overtime of a January 1969 game and was followed by a game where the team hit all 36 of their free throws.

The last game in Mavericks franchise history also stands out. The team set their scoring record with 149 points in a win over the New York Nets. They did so in front of an all-time low crowd of 89 fans. 

The team moved to Carolina for the next season. 

What was the Houston Mavericks logo? 

I love the ABA logos. Every one I have encountered makes me smile. Both of the Mavericks logos do the trick.

The first Houston Mavericks logo was used for their first season. It features a prominent H for Houston with the name of the team on it. The maverick is behind attempting to jump through the H.

This is the original Houston Mavericks logo. It shows a maverick jumping through the letter H.

The second Mavericks logo was used for their second season. It features a maverick in the back but this time an ABA ball with the team’s name replaces the H for Houston.

This is the Houston Mavericks second logo. It shows a maverick behind a red, white and blue basketball with the words: Houston Mavericks on it.

Were the Houston Mavericks good? 

No, the Houston Mavericks were not good. They were a losing team in both seasons and only made the playoffs in the first season. You can see details on the seasons below. 


Coach: Slater MartinRegular Season Record:  29-49
Western Div. Semi-FinalsLost to Dallas Chaparrals 0-3. 


Coach: Slater Martin & Jim WeaverRegular Season Record: 23-55
DId not make playoffs

Who played for  the Houston Mavericks? 

Below are the roster from each of the Mavericks two seasons.

1967-1968 Houston Mavericks Roster

34Arthur BeckerPF6-7Arizona State
24Will FrazierPF6-7Grambling State University
20Hal HalePG6-1Utah State University
22Joe HamoodSG6-0Houston
44Darrell HardyF6-7Baylor
35Leary LentzSF6-6Houston
31Guy ManningSF6-6Prairie View A&M University
14Dewitt MenyardC6-10Utah
44Wayne MolisC6-8Chicago State, Lewis (IL)
21Jerry PettwaySG6-3Northwood University
15Bob RiedyPF6-6Duke
25Roger SchurigPG6-3Vanderbilt
12Willie SomersetPG5-8Duquesne
Gary TurnerF6-7TCU

1968-1969 Houston Mavericks Roster

34Arthur BeckerSF6-7Arizona State
25Spider BennettPG6-3Winston-Salem State
33Larry BunceC7-0Utah State University
14Don CarlosSG6-5Otterbein College
33Richard ClarkSG6-4Eastern Kentucky University
25Rich DumasG6-3Northeastern State University
15Bill GainesG6-4Texas A&M University-Commerce
24Tom HooverC6-9Villanova
24Tony JacksonSF6-4St. John's
20Stew JohnsonPF6-8Murray State
52Tom KondlaC6-8Minnesota
21Steven KramerSG6-5BYU
35Leary LentzSF6-6Houston
31Guy ManningSF6-6Prairie View A&M University
21Jerry PettwaySG6-3Northwood University
15Willie PorterPF6-7Tennessee State
44Kendall RhineC6-10Rice University
12Willie SomersetPG5-8Duquesne
32Keith SwagertyPF6-7University of the Pacific
35Levern TartSG6-2Bradley
22Bob VergaSG6-1Duke
12Hank WhitneyPF6-7Iowa State

Who were the Houston Mavericks Best Players? 

The Mavericks were not known for having great players. Even in their two dismal seasons, a few players stood out.

Willie Somerset

Willie Somerset is probably the best player in the short history of the Houston Mavericks. He was also quite a short player as a 5’8” point guard. 

He led the team in scoring their first season at nearly 22 points per game.

Somerset led the team in minutes per game in both seasons of the franchise. In the team’s second season, Somerset was traded away after 43 games. 

He was the team’s leading scorer at the time and finished second in points per game for the season at almost 25 per game.

I’d love to say more about him, but there isn’t much to say. He played one unproductive season in the NBA, one year in the EBA then had these two seasons in the ABA and that was it. 

It’s strange that someone with such a limited basketball resume was putting up so many points for an ABA  team, but he did. He did not play professional ball after the Mavs second season.

Arthur Becker

This is a picture of ABA basketball player Arthur Becker.

Arthur Becker was a 6’7” forward who averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds for the Mavs in their first season. He made the All Star team that year.

Becker actually briefly served as player/coach in the Mavs second season. The team asked him to step into the role in between the departure of Slater Martin and the hiring of Jim Weaver.

The player/coach job points to the respect Becker had of his teammates – this despite the fact that the Mavs second season was only his second in professional basketball as well. 

In the ‘68-’69 his scoring dropped to 13 points per game and he grabbed 8 boards per game as well. 

Becker went on to play six total seasons in the ABA. He made another All Star team in 1972 and grabbed an ABA title with the Pacers in 1970. 

Bob Verga

Bob Verga only played 33 games for the Houston Mavericks, but he filled it up in those games. Verga was a 6’1 guard nicknamed The Gun.

He averaged 25 points per game in his half season in Houston.

Verga stayed with the team when they went to Carolina and put up 27 per game for them the following season. All told he played 6 seasons in the ABA for a number of franchises. 

He scored pretty decently at most of those stops. 

Stew Johnson

Stew Johson only played for the Mavericks in their second season. He put up great numbers that season, however.

The 6’8” power forward poured in 21 points per game and grabbed 8 boards as well.

Johnson had a long professional basketball career. He played for quite a few franchises and made 3 ABA All Star teams. 

What happened to the Houston Mavericks? 

It was not unusual for ABA teams to struggle at the gate and then move. The Anaheim Amigos only lasted one season before becoming the LA Stars. The Stars moved on to Utah after  only two years in Los Angeles.

The Dallas Chaparrals first tried to draw fan interest by playing in three different cities near Dallas then moved on to San Antonio.

The same fate awaited the Houston Mavericks. When Jim Gardner’s group purchased the franchise from the ABA in January of 1969, they did so with the intention of moving the team to North Carolina.

At the end of the Mavericks’ pathetic second season in Houston, that is just what Gardner did. The team became the Carolina Cougars. 

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In North Carolina, the team took a regional approach playing games in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. 

For the most part, the approach worked. The Cougars were reasonably successful and lasted five years in Carolina. 

With a merger with the NBA on the horizon, the team was sold and moved to St. Louis based on the belief that the NBA would not accept a regional team. 

The Spirits of St. Louis lasted two seasons and made it until the end of the ABA. They were one of two teams, along with the Kentucky Colonels, to survive until the end of the ABA but not to be included in the NBA merger.

Houston once again got professional basketball with the move of the Rockets from San Diego to Houston for the 1971-1972 season. 

The Rockets fared much better than the Mavericks, winning two titles in the 1990’s with Hakeem Olajuwon leading the way. 

Dallas was granted an NBA expansion franchise in 1980 that they named the Mavericks. 

Check Out My Other ABA Articles

If you enjoy reading about the ABA, check out my other articles on the upstart league.

The Amigos/Stars

The Dallas/Texas Chaparrals

Read about the Mostly Dallas/Briefly Texas Chaparrals here.

The Mavericks/Cougars/Spirits

Read about the disastrous Houston Mavericks here.

Read about the Carolina Cougars here.

Summary: the Houston Mavericks

The Houston Mavericks were one of the original ABA franchises. The Mavericks had losing records in both their seasons and drew almost no fan interest. The team was sold after their second season, moved to North Carolina and renamed the Carolina Cougars. 

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