The Olympians were founded in 1949 to replace the Indianapolis Jets. The Olympians were led by University of Kentucky alumni Alex Groza and Ralph Beard, both of whom were key contributors on the gold medal winning 1948 US Olympic basketball team. Olympic team members Wallace Jones and Cliff Barker (both also Kentucky alumni) also played on the team. An Olympic alternate and UK grad, Joe Holland, played forward for the Indianapolis team through the 1952 season.
After the 1951 season, Groza and Beard were suspended from the NBA for life by commissioner Maurice Podoloff when the players admitted point shaving during their college careers. The Olympians finished with a 28–43 record in 1953, and folded after that season. The Olympians compiled a 132–137 record in four seasons in the NBA.
Indianapolis would not have an NBA team until 1976 when the Indiana Pacers were one of the four teams admitted from the ABA in the ABA–NBA merger.
The Olympians still hold the distinction of being the winning team in the longest game in NBA history—they were the 75–73 victors in a six-overtime game against the Rochester Royals in a game played on January 6, 1951.