Los Angeles and Pittsburgh don't have much of a shared basketball history, aside from the fact they have shared Ben Howland and Connie Hawkins.
But both cities have professional basketball ties to Minneapolis.
We poached the Lakers from there, Pittsburgh sent its ABA franchise there -- and one year later, brought it back.
The Pittsburgh Pipers were the original champions of the ABA, with future Hall of Famer Hawkins leading them to the 1967-68 title.
But the ABA was built on a foundation as secure as sand, with franchises seemingly forever in motion during the early years. After that first season, the Minnesota Muskies left for Miami and the defending champion Pipers jumped into the void, becoming the Minnesota Pipers -- for one season.
The 1968-69 season was a debacle for the Pipers. They played home games in Minneapolis and Duluth and couldn't draw crowds. They lowered all ticket prices to $2 and still couldn't draw.
So they returned to Pittsburgh for the 1969-70 season.
The Pipers' owners seemed to forget the Muskies left town for good reason. Having seen pro basketball at its best, Minnesotans yawned at the ABA replacements.
(Historical/cultural footnote: It has never been conclusively proven that these replacements were the inspiration for the now legendary 1980s Minneapolis alt-rock band The Replacements. Those Replacements played for much bigger crowds than the Muskies and the Pipers.)
Before the Pipers, Hawkins played for another Pittsburgh professional club, the Rens, a member of the American Basketball League. How many years did the ABL last?
Can't go home again
By the time the Pipers slinked back to Pittsburgh, they found no love from the jilted fans and jaded media. Hawkins left for the NBA and the Pipers finished 29-55.
Trying to jump-start interest, the team held a contest to let fans rename the team. The name "Pioneers" was selected as the winning entry, and the man who submitted the name received a $500 cash prize.
However, a local NAIA school, Point Park College, was not only already using the name "Pioneers" but also was located five blocks from the ABA team's offices. After the school threatened legal action, the club decided to change its name to "Condors" -- and by 1972, the Condors were extinct.
From the website RememberTheABA.com: "Why 'Pittsburgh Condors'? No explanation was ever provided, although the 'endangered' status of real condors seemed equally applicable to this franchise."
Tale of two cities
As UCLA's Bruins and Pittsburgh's Panthers ready for tonight's Sweet 16 encounter, Briefing offers its own L.A.-Pittsburgh breakdown.
Championship showdowns: Super Bowl, 1980 -- Pittsburgh defeats L.A., 31-19. National League championship series, 1974 -- L.A. defeats Pittsburgh, three games to one. Tiebreaker -- Warren Beatty leads Rams to dramatic victory over Steelers in "Heaven Can Wait."
Top L.A. imports: Howland; Hawkins (played for Lakers, 1974-75); Paul Coffey (reached Stanley Cups finals with Kings, 1993); Terry Bradshaw (joined Fox, 1994).
Top L.A. exports: Jim Tracy; Lynn Swann (from USC to four Super Bowls); Jerome Bettis (from Rams to Steelers to Hall of Fame by way of St. Louis); Maury Wills (from Dodgers to Pirates in 1967, back to L.A. via Montreal in 1969).
Logos: Check out the current logos of the Pirates and the Oakland-L.A.-Oakland Raiders. Scowling pirate/raider, black eye-patch, crossed weapons in the background. Somebody did some pirating/raiding.
Hockey tradition: Then -- L.A. had Gretzky, Pittsburgh had Lemieux. Now -- Pittsburgh has Crosby, L.A. has May and June off.
The ABL lasted only 1 1/2 seasons, making its debut in 1961 and folding on Dec. 31, 1962. The ABL had two local franchises: the Los Angeles Jets and the Long Beach Chiefs.
The 1970-71 Condors opened training camp stunned to see their prized rookie, Mike Maloy, weigh in 50 pounds over his college playing weight.
According to RememberTheABA.com, "one club official joked that Maloy showed up so fat that 'we put him out in the middle of the court and ran the team around him to build up our wind.' "