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Old 12-04-2012, 12:08 PM   #1
Durbansandshark
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Default Defunct Teams, Defunct Leagues

Your favo(u)rite American here on these boards, Durban, thought about developing a thread devoted to pro basketball franchises and pro basketball leagues from days gone by that were not in the NBA, ABA (both original and this mockery of a current one), CBA, IBL, IBA (current version), PBL, NBDL, CBL, WNBA, USBL, among them for quite some time. See, as an amateur basketball historian and afficionado, I like to know more about leagues that many of us, especially here in America where casual fans--and even hardcore ones--don't think about. It's an issue of access, familiarity, and curiousity. Not to mention in a lot of cases, poor organization and underfunding. Thereby prompting a negative reputation of pro basketball in America that is not named NBA for years.

Let's start with Las Vegas, a city that has lots of practice with "pretender" sports leagues for about four decades--and thus a sports graveyard like San Antonio is. Debate still rages over whether Las Vegas is truly a pro sports city. We even discuss this on these boards several years ago. Not surprisingly, gambling is a major reason why the top leagues shy away from it for expansion candidates or relocating franchises. In basketball, Las Vegas endured the WBA's Gamblers, the CBA's Silvers, the WBL's Silver Streaks, the ABA's Slam, Rattlers, Aces, and now Destroyers. And still that city can't get a true NBA invite even after hosting an NBA All-Star Weekend. During all these years, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels serve as the de facto pro basketball team for the city.

So now I start it all with the Las Vegas Silver Bandits from the original IBL with many thanks to the site Fun While It Lasted. One of the more notable pro basketball teams based in Las Vegas from a decade ago. This team featured Lionel Hollins as head coach, fresh off his interim coaching stint with the Vancouver Grizzlies after an ownership changed there. Hollins since returned to the Grizzlies franchise after its subsequent move to Memphis and is the best coach the franchise has ever had. On the playing side, there was J.R. Henderson, Ed O'Bannon (NCAA champs from UCLA 1995), and George Ackles (former UNLV star). But Hollins wasn't the first Silver Bandits coach. That honor went to Rolland Todd, the first ever coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. The league turned its back on the Bandits when owner Jackie Robinson (no, not THAT one) failed to get funding to cover the rest of the season when it had its hands full with the woes of the New Mexico Slam, Baltimore BayRunners, and the San Diego Stingrays.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...vegas-bandits/
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:04 AM   #2
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Many of you have on these boards never ever heard of the World Basketball League. Or at least had very vague memories about it, if you ever read the FIBA Basketball Monthly magazines back in the day. Don't feel too bad. It only lasted three and a half seasons. I have made fleeting mentions of the league as part of a bigger subject, like most recently, my history of Canadian pro basketball up to the NBL Canada's creation.

The WBL is best known as a summer season minor pro basketball league from 1988 to 1992 whose notable and unique requirement (or gimmick, if you prefer) was that players had to stand no taller than 6'5" to play on the team, an outlet for smaller players who want to continue on to the pro level when taller size seems to be at a premium. Teams were based in cities in both the US and Canada where there was no existing NBA franchise, mostly in medium cities. Though in its final season in 1992 that did not get to play in full, the WBL's height maximium was raised to 6'7". This twist of having players under the height limit certainly made for some entertaining and high-octane offensive games.

Its demise came during the midst of the 1992 sesason when it was revealed Phar-Mor executive, WBL founder, and Youngstown Pride owner Mickey Monus was bankrolling the league's financial losses by systematically embezzeling $10 million from the publicly-owned, Youngstown-based discount pharmacy chain that he owned called Phar-Mor. It collasped immediately, and Monus was convicted to 11 years in federal prison. Those actions help extend the negative percetion minor league pro basketball it has in the US. Other investors included the legendary Bob Cousy, who had a previous experience with minor league sports as commissioner of the American Soccer League in the late 1970s and early 1980s despite not knowing a lick about the sport for a league that needed name recognition. There was also Norm Drucker, a 25-year veteran of NBA and ABA officiating, later the NBA's head of officiating who held the WBL's capacity in it.

Furthermore, league rules mandated WBL franchises at the time to have 60% ownership by the league and 40% local, supposedly to prevent league instability and keep disenchanted local ownership from closing up shop. But effectively Monus ruled each of those too. Later it went up to 80% league control.

Monus' Youngstown Pride was one of the better WBL teams during that time. The Pride won the WBL back to back in 1989 and 1990 beating the Calgary 88s both times. Even with its minor tag, the league had some college and eventual NBA stars. Youngstown's most notable players were Tim Legler and Mario Elie.

Like with several subsequential American-based basketball minor leagues, it round out the schedule with its teams by allowing mostly European teams from Finland, Estonia, Greece, The Bahamas, Norway, The Netherlands, The Ukraine, Russia, and the former Soviet Union to play against them to have a taste of American players and have it count in the standings. Those teams were older and played together longer...and decidely slower. Oftentimes, the faster WBL teams won on sheer athleticism.

I recall on lucky Saturday summer afternoons on TV back in 1990-91, if the reception was decent enough despite significant amount of "snow" present, I could catch a couple of WBL games from a Sportschannel America feed on a low-watt reception channel from far away that we didn't officially have (Channel 7 on the VHF dial as part of a Sports Weekend America) like a Calgary 88s game or a Youngstown Pride home game against the Soviets that had Tit Sokk on the team months before the Soviet breakup. I also recall seeing the Memphis Rockers, the Erie Wave, and the Saskatchewan Storm playing games on Sportschannel's feed a couple of times. I was cable-deprived at the time. Neither home game for the first two at the Olympic Saddledome or the Beeghley Arena, respectively, even through the TV snow, was well-attended
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Old 20-05-2012, 04:34 AM   #3
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One of the things lost about the WBL lied in the fact that many of the Canadian-based franchises in the league, with the exception of the Vancouver Nighthawks from the first season in 1988, were quite successful on and off the court in comparasion to the US teams. For many Canadian basketball fans, this was their biggest exposure to Canadian pro basketball teams at the time. Didn't had to deal with the since-gone Canadian CBA teams like the Alberta Dusters and the Toronto Tornados competing and conflicting with their interest with the NBA's massive exposure. The advent of the FIBA World Basketball Championships in Toronto and Hamilton and the NBA's Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies were several years off that would take basketball to the next level there. This era in the 1970s-1990s was where pro basketball in Canada was starting to become more accessible.

Clearly, Canadians were ready for another pro sport along with hockey, and they proved that. Halifax, with its affinity for basketball already in place with hosting the CIS Final 8 for several years and the success and support of the Atlantic University Sports basketball, had the Windjammers which was, until the current Rainmen in the ABA/PBL/NBL Canada, one of the more successful pro franchises the city had. Saskatoon featured the Saskatchewan Storm that lasted for a few years that pulled decent crowds. Winnipeg Thunder, a new team that until the league's collapse in 1992, drew 15,000 fans in its home opener at the old Winnipeg Arena before going down to more respectable crowds. It enjoyed considerable corporate and public support until the league's instability caused problems and increased competition in the local minor-league world made things tough like when the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team arrived. Calgary 88s, named for the 1988 Winter Olympics and often the westernmost Canadian WBL outpost after the end of Vancouver, once in a while was great and holds the best winning percentage of all the Canadian-based WBL franchises at .659. Hamilton Skyhawks also did well. But for all of that success, none of the Canadian teams won a WBL title.

In its final season, five of its 10 teams were up in Canada--Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Saskatchewan, and Calgary. In many of these cases, players there were local celebrities like they were their own NBA franchises. The end came when many of the WBL teams were missing payroll. With their success, the next year those teams left, like the Rainmen, Saint John Mill Rats, and the Quebec City Kebs after them many years later, formed their own Canada-only basketball league. Hamilton later moved to Edmonton in the middle of its first Canadian NBL season in 1993 and like the WBL, they would play games that would count in the standings with non-league teams like the Canadian men's basketball team. That NBL would last two years.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:23 AM   #4
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Houston didn't just make history once in women's pro basketball in the US with the Comets winning 3 league titles starting back in 1997. Houston is the city that first made women's pro basketball history by winning the first nationwide league championship in the old WPBL back in 1979, but, unlike the Comets later, the Houston Angels didn't last as long and folded after the WPBL's sophomore season. Like the Comets though, they had the league's best record at 26-8

The Minnesota Fillies, which at the time had one of the few, if not the only, female head coaches in the league in 29-year old Julia Yeater, became the one of three WPBL franchises to last all three seasons of the league's existence.

Another thing that is interesting is hours before this home game the Fillies had with the Angels was of Minnesota traded away the league's leading scorer Brenda Chapman to the Milwaukee Does.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...ouston-angels/
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Old 31-07-2012, 07:29 AM   #5
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The WBL's Las Vegas Silver Streaks. One of the more successful pro basketball endeavors Las Vegas has seen in its all-too-brief time there in all of the franchises that came and went through the city. Actually the most successful. The Silver Streaks won the first WBL title in 1988 over the Chicago (later Illinois) Express. Like many Las Vegas basketball entities, it capitalized on the promotion of former UNLV stars and coaches to drum up local interest seeing them go pro. After three years from 1988 to 1990 it went kaput and dragged its carcass to be the Nashville Stars for one season before the whole league did likewise.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...ilver-streaks/

July 24, 1989 Sports Illustrated article about the World Basketball League with the then-ownerless Silver Streaks as the focal point.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...8612/index.htm
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Old 28-08-2012, 11:14 AM   #6
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Until the arrival of the Grizzlies in 2001, Memphis, like Las Vegas still is, toiled away in pro basketball pretender leagues that didn't last long while having a very solid college basketball program. It had the Memphis Pros, the Tams, the Sounds, the Hot Shots, and the Houn'Dawgs. But one of the more notable Memphis ones came from the World Baketball League outside of the ABA ones that actually originated from New Orleans was the Rockers.

The Rockers lasted for two seasons (1990-1991) playing at their Mid-South Coliseum home in their purple and silver colo(u)rs. Unlike some local ownership in that league which could be hit and miss sometimes, the Rockers had some solid backing with cotton magnate Billy Dunavant partnering with four prominent black businessmen--Calvin Anderson, Pat Carter, Claude English, George Jones and Harold Shaw Sr. all each forked $200,000--to pay for the $1 million fee as the 20%. Dunavant, former owner of the popular USFL team the Memphis Showboats from 1984-86, also had aspirations at the time for an NFL expansion team for 1995 to fill the Liberty Bowl to have been called the Hound Dogs in an expansion derby with St. Louis, Baltimore, and eventual winners Charlotte and Jacksonville, indicative of the chicken feed money to him on the Rockers.

Basketball operations were handled by ABA and NBA coaching journeyman Tom Nissalke (Dallas Chaparrals, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Stars, Seattle Supersonics, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks assistant). Nissalke later went to become the commissioner of the short-lived National Basketball League in Canada later on in the 1990s. Like with any minor pro team, the Rockers, to drum up local interest, brought aboard former Memphis St. Tiger players like Andre Turner and Vincent Askew. Other notable players from that franchise include former Notre Dame star David Rivers, who ended up enjoying a lengthy career professionally in Europe, and the unforgettably-named House Guest. But the best players from the Rockers that went on to NBA success after that league overlooked them were Askew and New York Knicks star John Starks.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...inois-express/
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:37 PM   #7
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Though no one else has commented,I must say that I enjoy reading your updates in this thread.
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Old 06-09-2012, 08:35 PM   #8
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Dude needs a Blogger account.
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Old 07-09-2012, 12:56 PM   #9
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The man needs his own forum section!
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Old 14-09-2012, 09:15 AM   #10
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Glad you're enjoying this new thread, mates! Thanks! I think you guys are certainly learning something here; it's a testment to the quality of my writing and exposing you to other realms of world basketball that you normally won't venture into. Does seem to be me dominating the World subsection. They all act like blog posts already with the threads that I got there. In fact, Mookie, impressed by my contributions, invited me a few years ago in his PM to contribute to his A Stern Warning blog. I'm still interested in it, but for it to truly work I need to have a computer of my own to write my bits around my work schedule. So as of now, I'm happy doing this.

When your hometown New Orleans Jazz leave for Salt Lake City to become the Utah Jazz in 1979 when you're deep pocketed and a basketball lover, what do you do to cope with the void left? A 32-year old stockbroker who adored basketball named Steve Brown was one such person. He hooked up with one of his clients Dr. George Simpson, who initially refused, to fund an expansion franchise for 1979--later a newer contribution to Fun While It Lasted from the Women's Professional Basketball League, the New Orleans Pride. The Pride lured University of New Orleans Privateers coach and AD Butch Van Breda Kolff, a very good college coach who became infamous for feuding with Wilt Chamberlain and, as the The Basketball Hall of Shame book reveals, got T'ed up and ejected for high-fiving a ref during a ABA Memphis Tams game, to coach the Pride. The Pride drew a decent crowd at the canverous Louisiana Superdome for its first game--lesson learned, aside from all-star games and the NCAA tournaments, domed stadiums are generally not good for basketball--and shuttled between that and the old fieldhouse before the Lakefront Privateer Arena was built. By then, attendance dropped. Worse, there was also concerns regarding the racial compositions of the Pride that eventually saw two of their four black players traded. Keep in mind, this was around the same time when the NBA suffered a backlash for, among other things, "too black". And the WPBL had that same issue. In an attempt to counter that image issue, the WPBL , league and teams' owners alike, recommended players to wear skimpier outfits and consider physical appearance and "femininty" to compliment their basketball skills and, in the case of the Pride's ownership's suggestion, even apply makeup prior to gametime! Such were the struggles of women's basketball at that time.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/tag/new-orleans-pride/
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Old 24-10-2012, 08:31 AM   #11
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It only played one game, and that was at the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit on February 10, 1991--attendance was not bad at almost 11,000. Supposedly as a showcase for the league and fielding new franchises. Women's pro basketball in the US at the time was in a dark age after the fall of the WBL, WABA, and the phantom NWBA in the previous decade even when the United States was producing (and still does) incredible resevoirs of women's basketball talent. This league got promoted to be the latest and greatest women's basketball league in the US. Meanwhile, however, all of the top former NCAA stars headed over to Italy, Japan, South Korea, France, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Switzerland, Israel, and Spain, among them to sharpen their trades. Consequently, it couldn't get them.

The Liberty Basketball Association was doomed from the very start. Old assumptions about an American-based women's pro basketball league reared its ugly head again on this one. Jim Drucker, a builder of the CBA, devised this idea. What was heavily promoted was to encourage women to dunk and thereby break the unlady-like assumption that women shouldn't dunk. Baskets at both 82" ends were 9'2" each with a smaller ball and 13' foul line. All devised to make the LBA emulate more like the NBA with fast-paced entertainment while perhaps keeping the fundamentals in play.

ESPN televised this only LBA game at 11:30 am US CT that day but it dealt with two power outages, both at halftime, making it a 40-minute intermission. How many of you think many of those people stayed? Half of those tickets were payed for with many fans concentrated on side of the Palace to make it look bigger for ESPN. The game itself was the LBA All-Stars taking on the Detroit Dazzle. Other teams that were slated to appear in the league were the Seattle Reign, Chicago Slammers, Los Angeles Lancers, Philadelphia Freedoms, and the New York Blasters--don't you see the rhyming trend going on here? Miami was supposed to have a team too. I read in the Sporting News back then (had a subscription back then) that the late Dick Harter, formerly the first head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, was to coach one of these teams. The Dazzlers won this 104-87. Yes, there was plenty of dunking involving.

But none of these things are what the LBA is best remembered for. Well, a little bit of the dunking attempt. It's for something that, as this Australian basketball website and forum knows all too well, was more on the visuality of the players: those one piece Lycra unitards. So tight they were their nipples were exposed. Some reporters cried sexism, viewing this as an attempt to capture the overwhelmingly male sports TV audience and exploited women not focusing on the skill levels (more on this later). But even some men were uncomfortable with the unis. The view was split among non-LBA players--Nancy Lieberman was for it but she didn't play in the game. Teresa Edwards kept her distance, apparently in the name of growing the professional level of women's basketball. The LBA players? We don't know.

The LBA was supposed to tip off in December of that year, but America was undergoing the midsts of a recession and wasn't about to fork over money to witness an unproven and unfamiliar (and gimmicky) product to them. Now it exists forever in the confines of hardcore basketball fans and trivia buffs.

As far as the male sports fans in terms of sexism is concerned, placing them in those uniforms for basketball, cute yes, unless and even when they're attractive, let's face it, is not like pro beach volleyball. Some premier women athletes aren't known for their knockout pin-up caliber bodies, but it does seem to be changing a bit. Which is fine, mind you. Most male basketball fans, even when they're watching women's basketball, don't go for the ogling. The oglers, I don't think, they're are part of the target audience, unless it's the Lingerie Football League and aren't cut from the same cloth as sports fans, male and female.

http://atlantadreamblog.blogspot.com...sociation.html
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:32 AM   #12
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Back to the most successful women's pro basketball league in the United States until the WNBA, if you can grant it that distinction. The WBL, yes lasting far more longer than the one-game LBA, had another doomed franchise in the Washington Metros, a team that played home games in Baltimore as well as Washington (two venues in the latter). But once the original owner Jerry Lewis (no, not that one) and his original ownership left for mysterious reasons, the league was left funneling funds to them from other sources like the commissioner's personal credit cards. That started the beginning of the league's (not just the Metros' end) demise and difficulties as the Metros met its death with the Philadelphia Fox in mid-December 1979.

Here's the typical non-top pro league issue afflicting them: players not getting paid for two months. The just-traded, popular, and attractive Janie Fincher from the more successful Chicago Hustle had some experiences with the Metros that were both good and bad like having bountiful amounts of food in her car for her new hungry Metro teammates. With Washington gone, Fincher soon returned to Chicago, much to the joy of its fans.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...ington-metros/
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:44 AM   #13
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Not much footage of the WBL survived. Especially on YouTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo. The popular Chicago Hustle were televised on Superstation WGN, which was great back then when women's pro basketball was fighting for mainstream sports respect. Had great attendance and fans. But none of their stuff is on the said video clips...yet.

Like to introduce you to a seemingly-forgotten legend now from that league from the Iowa Cornets named Molly Bolin, aka "Machine Gun Molly" for her skill to shoot it. She was the WBL 1980 MVP and its leading scorer. Sadly, she's lost now in the minds of many women's basketball players, but she shouldn't be. She, along with bigger-named Ann Meyers of the New Jersey Gems (remember her pitching 7UP?), and Chicago's Jainie Fincher, were the photgenetic faces of the league--and they can ball. But league woes had other ideas. In Molly's case it was right game, wrong time and used her sex appeal.

First video shown has Iowa's Molly Bolin setting a WBL league record of 54 points in a televised home game (on Drake University's home court) against the Minnesota Fillies on January 13, 1980. Showing why she's Machine Gun Molly or the Blonde Bomber.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGIIsJHbgRA

NBC Sportsworld Sportsjournal November 17, 1984 profile report on what happened to her since the WBL's demise as she tried to make a comeback. Includes a WABA press conference of her from that same year speaking at the end.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7s526WvHUKc
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Old 21-11-2012, 08:07 AM   #14
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After the Chicago Hustle came the next notable Chicago women's pro basketball team. The Chicago Condors from the ABL, presented by Fun While It Lasted. The Condors entered the league as one of the two expansion franchises along with the Nashville Noise in the league's last season. Chicago certainly had a lot of credibility. Jim Cleamons' next head coaching job after being fired by the Dallas Mavericks a couple years ago. Future Sacramento Monarch Yolanda Griffith, a member of the 1996 US women's gold medal basketball team at the Atlanta Summer Olympics, was the on-court face of the Condors and played like it. Allison Hodges, wife of the controversial and allegedly blackballed NBA player Craig Hodges (Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks), was the Condors' GM and the face in Chicago's business and media communities. Its and Nashville's entries were curious because earlier the Atlanta Glory and the Long Beach Stingrays folded.

Sadly, we'll never know how they would've fared if they were allowed to continue. I think it would've become of the better ABL teams if the league went forward. Its demise came as part of the ABL's termination when the Condors were 4-8, but it was not of their own making. Chicago was one of the best ABL teams in attendance at the UIC Pavillion with 4775 in its five home games, making it second, and reported to the Chicago Tribune 650 season tickets and 500 mini-plans. Chicago's demise was because of all the immense financial problems of the league surrounding the Condors. The Condors' home debut win against Nashville was seen in front of Scottie Pippen, Juwan Howard, and Usher.

The ABL paid handsomely with $70,000 AND yera-round benefits per player (from a minimum of $40,000). Not bad. The single-entity ABL, in its rivalry with the WNBA, had the better on-court talent and product overall with several members of that said US Olympic team in it but played in a fall-winter sports calendar that is crowded that made it become lost or ignored to many North American sports fans. But it could developed a niche. Teams couldn't maket themselves locally becuase all of the operations came from league headquarters in Palo Alto, California. The league failed to attract national sponsors and a very solid all-important national TV contract. Consequently, it thus became insolvent and declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 22. The WNBA benefitted from the NBA's marketing muscle with its very strong media connections and played during the offseasons of the NFL, NBA, and NHL. Top players' salary there was $50,000. Makes you wish there was a ABL-WNBA merger, which would've made sense.

Also of note, Jenny McCarthy's sister Joanne was on the Condors back then after playing with her twin sister as a UIC-Chicago Flame. But she was seldom-used then. I recall seeing a 1998 ABL ad in the USA Today sports section that Jenny promoting the league adding as a footnote in parantheses at the bottom about her sis Joanne playing for the Condors.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...icago-condors/

You know, if ESPN wants to make a 30 for 30 doc on the history of US women's pro basketball prior to the WNBA, that would be fantastic. However, I think since there's little surviving footage of the WBL and WABA, it would have to incorporate a lot of the ABL footage too. This proposed documentary will make young viewers get schooled on there were attempts at women's pro ball before the WNBA.

"Machine Gun" Molly Bolin (now Molly Kazmer) talked to Fun While It Lasted's Andy Crossley last year about her time with the WBL's Iowa Cornets, her then-owner George Nissen, the WBL's stars, Iowa girls 6-on-6 basketball, the WABA, and some interesting recollections of a now-forgotten women's basketball league called the Ladies Professional Basketball Association for the Southern California Breeze that had a certain unusual coach you Australians are familiar with down there.
https://www.box.com/s/talcp4kie35odlkh8hb2

If you to read the book on the WBL called Mad Seasons by Karra Porter, it's brilliant--check it out!
http://books.google.tt/books/about/M...d=2pVr1zQmF64C
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Old 27-11-2012, 10:26 AM   #15
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The US Southeastern region currently involved with minor pro basketball like the CBL, the early days of the NBDL, the SEBL, the FBA, and the Tobacco Road Basketball League all actually have a neglected godfather in pro basketball there, as Fun While It Lasted makes people aware with. Enter the Global Basketball Association. It was supposed to pick up what the WBL was doing until it went under with the Phar-Mor scandal in bringing in pro teams from other nations and count in the standings. This was at the time when there was this genesis of nascent and proposed sports leagues, partly inspired by the liberalization of Eastern Europe, in planning to get teams based outside of North America like the proposed Global Hockey League planning teams in London, Vienna, Munich. The World League of American Football (later NFL Europe) is the most notable and successful in this for several years with teams in Britain, Germany, The Netherlands, and Spain (supposed teams in Mexico City and Milan, Italy were jettisoned before the first season in 1991). But in the GBA's case, that never even materialized with the proposed foriegn teams from Estonia and San Marino. I remember a Street and Smith two-page story in the back of its NBA 1991-92 yearbook that interviews former ABA commissioner Mike Storen (dad of NBC and now ESPN sportscaster Hannah Storm) as the GBA's big boss. Did something like the ABA with its ball. Only that unlike the ABA's red, white, and blue basketball, the GBA's was an all-white rock.

Consequently, the GBA ended up clustered in that said southeastern region with three of its teams in North Carolina alone--an investor's response towards the runaway success (in attendance and merchandise, though not yet in wins) of the Charlotte Hornets, the rich and deep talent from the basketball-mad ACC, SEC, and to a lesser extent in the Big South and Trans American (now Atlantic Sun), and the unsung ABA Carolina Cougars who played regional home games in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem. Greensboro got itself the GBA franchise here in the Greensboro City Gaters, named for the seldom-used nickname "Gate City" and nonsenscially used a gator as a mascot. As did Raleigh with the Raleigh Bullfrogs. But the 11-team league also had its CBA-like moment with faraway teams in Wichita, Kansas and Sagina, Michigan.

There's another familiar face. Playground legend Lloyd "Sweetpea" Daniels starts his bouncing around again and makes a comeback after getting kicked out of the Topeka Sizzlers and the NZNBL for lack of fitness, drug and alcohol issues when he joins the Gators. The GBA heavily promoted Daniels as the face of the league since it couldn't get much mileage off of aging and washed out former NBA players like the Louisville Shooters' Milt Wagner and Raleigh's Chuck Nevitt (you know, The Human Victory Cigar). With great help of John Lucas while being at Lucas' Miami Tropics, he cleaned up his act and regained his shooting touch to become the GBA's MVP...before Greensboro ends its time after a 30-33 in the fall/winter 1991-92 season. Greensboro Coliseum, used so often for NCAA Final Fours, ACC and NCAA tournaments, failed to emulate the Hornets' Charlotte Coliseum in attendance for Gaters games. It was a poor 1000 per game in an arena seating 25,000. League tries to start a second season but with so many of its teams woefully underfinanced decided to shut down on December 19, 1992.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...o-city-gaters/

Ben Steele discusses his Greensboro City Gaters memories and his childhood infatuation at the time for Lloyd Daniels in his Order of the Court basketball blog:
http://orderofthecourt.blogspot.com/...edemption.html
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Old 27-11-2012, 10:29 AM   #16
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Old 30-12-2012, 07:55 AM   #17
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Our writer from Fun While It Lasted, Andy Crossley, recalls the ABL's Columbus Quest making the best of a not-so-stellar facility while watching them during his college days. Definitely among the best women's pro basketball teams ever. They were a on-court success. Could they have rivaled the Hosuton Comets? We'll never know. I have no doubt they would've succeeded if there was a ABL-WNBA merger. Again, the league had the pay but no big sponsors and TV deal while the WNBA everything else but the better salaries. At the time, the Cleveland Rockers were the Ohio WNBA rep with the league preferring and focusing on established NBA markets to place teams in to start the young league with--not to mention Ohio St. long-successful women's basketball taking precedence in Columbus. Now that era has passed and with WNBA teams in non-NBA areas Connecticut and Tulsa, maybe it would be a nice idea to have Columbus in the WNBA and put the Quest in. Future Lnyx and Storm coach Brian Alger, Valerie Still, and Tonya Edwards get nods.

PS: What? No love for hometown girl Katie Smith, a National Honors Society member in HS, daughter of a dentist, and an Ohio St. Buckeye All-American who led them to the 1993 NCAA Championship Game against Sheryl Swoopes and her Texas Tech Red Raiders in Atlanta? She was a star on that team with her sharpshooting skills and went to on to be a mainstay on 4 US Olympic teams from 1996-2008.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...olumbus-quest/
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:27 AM   #18
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Before the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA. Before the ABL's Atlanta Glory a decade earlier from the Dream. There was Atlanta's brief and pitiful first foray into women's pro basketball back in the 1980s, the Atlanta Comets from 1984. They played briefly in the WABA, a league that apparently rose from the ashes of the WPBL, with over-expansion on dubiously-structured teams in that league playing as a partial culprit. But women's pro basketball was still a very tough and still-unfamiliar sell to the American public back then, despite the growing profile of NCAA women's basketball with Cheryl Miller as its public face back then and of the golden success of the 1984 US women's Olympic basketball team in Los Angeles that summer (that starred Miller) and having a sports businessman Bill Byrne's previous experience in creating lower-tiered pro leagues that lacked staying power. The Comets, which played 13 games with the modest Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta as its home, are now forgotten because of how long the franchise lasted as a charter member of the WABA...and they were among the worst-run and financed. Thus old woes stemming from the WPBL reared its ugly head that ultimately led to the league's swift demise after December 1984 following its only season.

1984 gold medalist and future 2x NCAA title-winning Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was a draft pick from that team, but never played on the roster.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...tlanta-comets/
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:05 AM   #19
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The WPBL returns here in the form of the New York Stars, from the league's biggest media market. In just about any fledging league you go to here in the US/Canada in pro sports history (from soccer, lacrosse, tennis, softball, arena football, volleyball, roller hockey), it's always imperative you make a foothold in the Big Apple in whatever sport you're in to capture serious media and corporate attention. But being in NY can be a double-edged sword: the sports fans and the long-established mainstream sports media types can be tough and look down on, and ignore, newer, younger, and unfamiliar sports to them like women's pro basketball. Still does to an extent with the New York Liberty, but not as much. But you have to promote the sport while you're there to build awareness to the public.

Anyway, for the two years of the NY Stars (also the name of a defunct WFL team few years earlier) existence, they enjoyed plenty of highlights. Didn't start out playing at Madison Square Garden but did the next season. Their season was out at New Rochelle, New York at Iona College, sufficient by WPBL standards with playing for 1000 at bigger facilities. But lost $350,000 playing out of nearly nowhere there in New Rochelle, prompting the move to MSG. They had some talent with Althea Gwynn as the top star and leading scorer and rebounder, but she got largely ignored as the national attention went towards pretty blondes like Molly Bolin, Jane Fincher, Anne Meyers, and especially Gwynn's teammates the Young twins Kaye and Faye Young from NC St., both of whom appeared in Dannon Yogurt and Wrigley's Doublemint gum ad campaigns, two of the most important endorsements for a women's basketball player then along with Meyers' 7UP endorsement back then. For stand alone games, the Felt Forum suited them in their second season with the main arena serving as a double header with the Knicks. That time in 1979-80, the Stars hired former Knicks star Don Meminger as coach, and the Stars improved and became stronger by going 28-7 and winning the WPBL title over the Bolin and her Iowa Cornets. Though it proved to be its last hurrah, it was a great way to go out. Later in 1980, possibly due in part to the national economy, the Stars shut down its doors and never got the opportunity to defend its title in the WPBL's third and final season in 1981.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...ew-york-stars/

After returning to the New Jersey Gems following the Stars' demise, Kaye Young ended up marrying her longtime sweetheart, North Carolina St. linebacker Bill Cowher, later a 2x Super Bowl winning coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 1981 after the league went defunct. Since then she became Kaye Cowher to the Steeler Nation and right by Bill's side. Sadly, she passed away in July 2010 from skin cancer at the age of 54. Daughters Meghan and Lauren played at Princeton. Other daughter Lindsay was a Wofford Terrier. You can see the Dannon ad with her twin Faye as you scroll down from the link.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:13 AM   #20
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Already mentioned this earlier on this thread: if you havent known about this thread, I'll ask you: What city has the distinction of being the first ever champions in women's pro basketball? Answer: Houston. If you guessed the Houston Comets from the WNBA, you're somewhat right since most people can ID that league, but not quite with respect to the ABL (Columbus Quest) if not WABA, but go further. It was the Houston Angels back in 1979.

At the Essex Hotel in New York for the inaugural WPBL Draft, the Angels had for their first selection UCLA All-American Ann Meyers. But she declined to join prefering to maintain her amatuer status playing for the United States for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which didn't happen for her due to the United States' eventual boycott (she also famously tried out for the Indiana Pacers back in 1979, which was very interesting in its own right). She eventually went to New Jersey Gems. Even with her, the Houston Angels were the best team in the league at 28-9 led by head coach Don Knodel and top performers All-WPBL'ers Belinda Candler and Paula Mayo. Houston met with the Iowa Cornets for the first WPBL Championship Series and went the best of 5 distance with Iowa, eventually winning at the University of Houston's Hofheinz Pavillion.

Its owner Hugh Sweeney, a former tennis pro known as one of the last players in the sport to wear pants, wasn't especially wealthy needing more cash and paid only $50,000 for the league entry, despite his love of the sport. When Sweeney and his investment group thought they had sold the Angels for a startling $1 million midway through the season in December 1979, it started a bizarre chain of insuffcient financial events as a result of a bizarre hoax they fell victim to while remaining competitive on-court. Now you see why sports leagues screen out prospective sports team owners very intensely before allowing them ownership.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...ouston-angels/
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Old 24-01-2013, 07:11 AM   #21
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You may recognize Allentown from that 1982 Billy Joel song of the same name from his Nylon Curtain album and of the accompanying video (about a working class Vietnam vet from that town disillusioned upon his homecoming becuase of the steel mills decline and eventual closings Joel witnessed in the mid-1970s while living there causing a lack of abundant jobs). But Allentown was one of the small cities that helped make up the Eastern Basketball Association, a forerunner to the CBA, with the Allentown Jets. It was regarded as the third best basketball league in the US at the time behind the NBA and ABA.

The following is really about New York Knicks "bonus baby" Tom Riker, drafted out of South Carolina, who was immovable to other teams due to his $100,000-a year salary, was discobered to be slow, overweight, and languished behind the great Willis Reed, tapped to be the next starting center. So Riker, who made more than the entire Allentown operation, was seen as "errant" as he was sent down there. NYK had a long-standing relationship with Allentown and its GM Frank Wagner. No mention of the Scranton Apollos though.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...anton-apollos/
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:25 AM   #22
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Fun While It Lasted's Andy Crossley managed to track down Kara Rehbaum (then Kara Haun), an alum from the WABA's Atlanta Comets now an asisstant AD at Hilbert College in Hillbert, NY, for an interview about her recollections being in Bill Byrne's haphazard, absurd, and dysfunctional women's basketball league, where things went horribly and outlandishly wrong from the beginning. Interestingly, Kara was the last player chosen from training camp to get on the Comets roster in 1984. Not much detail about this bizarre short-lived league exists in cyberspace, so thanks to FWIL for bringing attention to it.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...tlanta-comets/
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Old 28-02-2013, 07:29 AM   #23
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Amazing to consider given how liberal San Francisco is that its women's pro basketball history is sporadic (includes other parts of the Bay Area like Oakland and San Jose); it had more attempts in women's pro soccer than that. Not to mention its importance as a media market. San Francisco's first taste of women's pro basketball was the Pioneers when it arrived during the WBL's second season. The name Pioneers was rather appropriate since the WBL was the first ever women's pro basketball league in the US. Stockbrocker Marshall Geller has some notable partners in his investment group in actors Alana Alda (Hawkeye Pierce in MASH) and Mannix's Mike Connors who were open-minded enough to join. Led the league in attendance at the SF Civic Auditorium. Anita Ortega was the 4th leading scorer in the league. Everything was running smoothly as the Pioneers finished strong to make the playoffs at 18-18, and Geller was named "Owner of the Year".

But the second season brought internal messes: Geller fired coach/GM Frank LaPointe two months into the season and replaced him with former NBA pro Tom Memminger, fresh from the defunct NY Stars. Fan fave and tri-captain Pat Mayo was so disgruntled about this change she retired from pro basketball at the age of only 23 shortly after Memminger's arrival. Consequently, Memminger wiped out all the other players who express solidarity with Mayo, leaving only four remaining from the opening night's roster. The beloved "Machine Gun" Molly Bolin joined the Pioneers after the demise of the LPBA in January 1981 and made the 1981 All-Star Game in Albuquerque for the Pioneers despite playing only a month after the LPBA quickly went belly up following a handful of games and led all scorers there with 29 points. An excellent self-promoter as well as being a damn good sharpshooter with stunning blonde good looks, she paid her own prints of her posters that she sold at games that were sought after in every WBL city. But her and the changes the Pioneers made didn't had enough time to right the ship and failed to make the playoffs, disappointingly finishing at 14-22 away from playoff contention. By then, the WBL was in limbo and having cancelled its college draft in June 1980 and teams dying. Then soon after the league itself was through in 1981 with no formal announcement.

Since then, the Bay Area has only enjoyed one other women's pro basketball team: the ABL's San Jose Lazers that featured Opal legend Shelley Sandie and former Stanford star and Atlanta 1996 US gold medalist (and Demi Moore lookalike to me) Jennifer Azzi. After that termination of the ABL, that was it. I still think the ABL and the WNBA should've merged, even in hindsight. There was some talk here and there of the San Francisco Bay Area getting into the WNBA with an expansion team in 2000 to play in Oakland with the Golden St. Warriors operating it. But that didn't happen probrably because of the risk of not making a profit. Later back in 2009, some discussions emerged about the Maloofs selling and then possibly moving the Sacramento Monarchs (with new owners) to San Francisco, keeping it in Northern California instead of terminating it. But that never materialized and the Monarchs sadly too bit the dust in a poorly-handled manner. You would think with the national success of Stanford women's basketball for over the past three decades, the time would be fertile now for WNBA ball to finally hit the Bay Area and for women's pro basketball to return in that area. Perhaps any attempt, I guess, to finally bring it must wait until that new San Francisco arena along the harbo(u)rfront by AT&T Park that will house the Warriors gets built.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...isco-pioneers/
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:07 AM   #24
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A Hillale Itale-written Los Angeles Times article from August 20, 1989 about WBL commissioner Steven Ehrhart detailing the league's growing pains from its startup (like not having a Chicago team from the start) and planning to becoming more viable in the second season that was 1989.
http://articles.latimes.com/1989-08-...ketball-league

Michael Jordan came to see his brother Larry and his teammate Jim Les in action for the Illinois Express' 1988 WBL debut against the Youngstown Pride. Les scored the first Express points in its history. The Express won 115-102.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...-spurt-baskets

The World Basketball League had only 2-3 basketballs at the time that were bright white globes and had all of the seven continents painted in maroon in existence shipped around the country to be used for SportsChannel America-televised games and for photo shoots like the one with the Las Vegas Silver Streaks for SI.

You get to see that aforementioned WBL ball during this 1991 Calgary 88s home game at the Olympic Saddledome against the Saskatchewan Storm in this short action clip taken from a SportsChannel America telecast. It appears best close up when Calgary sharpshooter and fan fave Chip Engelland is at the free throw line. Other notable 88s were Perry Young, Sidney Lowe, Jim Thomas, Chris Childs, and Jerry Stroman. During the summer at that time, the 88s were kinda of big sports deal in the city when the NHL Flames weren't dominating the sports headlines with local buses there posterized with the 88s promotion, being an instant hit.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XNWPEGGvRQ

Chip Engelland happily reminisces about his time with the Calgary 88s and his love of Calgary in a 2005 Canoe.ca article:
http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Basketball...pf-914865.html
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Old 13-04-2013, 05:08 AM   #25
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Named in hono(u)r of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics that were completed months ago before the WBL started its first season, the Calgary 88s are fondly remembered in the local basketball circles there being the first pro basketball team (and still most successful) the city ever had. It was a good time for that city as it was more at the tail end of the Alberta oil boom back then starting from the late 1970s. The home of the annual Calgary Stampede, basketball enjoyed growing interest in Calgary with arrival of the 88s and, let's not forget, the immense and dominant success the Calgary Dinos women's basketball team had when they ultimately won the Bronze Baby in 1988, sharing the local sports headlines with the NHL's Calgary Flames. the Calgary summer-fall sports calendar had little competition outside of the CFL's Stampeders which completely avoided the issue of dates at the Olympic Saddledome with the Flames on their off-season. Also at the time provincial capital Edmonton up the highway wasn't quite interested in taking the pro basketball plunge, though it might have made an interesting rivalry back when that city was rightly called "the city of champions" with multiple Stanley Cups (the Oilers) and Grey Cups (the Eskimos) in the 80s.

Now Alberta has already some recent experience with minor league pro basketball with the Lethbridge-based Alberta Dusters in the CBA earlier in the 1980s, making it as the first Canadian team in that league as it was stretching itself from New England to Alaska to Canada to Hawaii and to Puerto Rico during that era. But the 88s were a bigger deal with a seemingly more stable and well-financed league (yeah, the 6'5" and under league); its logo and posters were plastered on buses and TV spots. There were promotions with Circle K, Shell, and KFC that were prominent, like photos and trading cards--you can still see them pop up on eBay. Players like fan fave Chip Engelland, Sidney Lowe, Perry "The Joker" Young, Jim "JT" Thomas, Scott Hicks, Chris Childs, John Hagwood, Carlos "Los" Clark, Dave Henderson, Andre Turner, Kelsey Weems, George "Ice" Jackson, Sean Chambers, and for you Sydney Kings fans out there, the D-Train Dwayne McClain were local celebrities. Also Mike Thibault, now coach-GM of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, got his coaching start there, followed by Corey Russell and Roger Lyons never missing a beat. Attendance was solid at the Olympic Saddledome (now the Scotiabank Saddledome) hovering around 5000 every home game, which was pretty good for minor league pro basketball with its low operating costs with rosters. Solid TV coverage from CanWest Global was key with an emphasis on the Canadian-based teams. But the 88s apparently couldn't find any notable Canadian players to play meaningful minutes on the roster and attract more local fans to indentify at their Saddledome.

What also helped was Calgary had the best winning percentage of all the Canadian-based WBL franchises alltime. Like with anything in sports, people, who learning about something new, attract toward a winning product. Unfortunately, for all of the great regular season success and solid fan support, the 88s never won a title in its four years of existence. Came agonizingly close. From 1989 to 1991, the 88s made it to three WBL Championship series and lost them all with the most successful attempt came in 1990 when the Youngstown Pride defeated them 3-2. The two series sandwiching that were sweeps from the Pride (1989, 2-0) and the Dayton Wings (1991). Being among the best teams in the WBL, usually at the top of the standings, means you also rack up some accolades along the way. Even hosted the first WBL All-Star Game in 1988. But when the WBL pulled the plug in 1992 after the Phar-Mor/Mickey Monus scandal, all momentum was killed after 34-25 games into the 1992 season. Dayton was awarded the title, a day folding before the whole league called it quits, being atop of the standings with Calgary right behind them at 4.5 games back at 22-12.

Whatever goodwill and momentum Calgary pro basketball had with the community was also killed with the league's demise. And it has taken years to get back into that. The 88s didn't make the move to the original Canadian NBL when it started and I feel should've as a notable brand, and instead allowed the creation of the Outlaws to come in, which didn't last partly due to expensive cross-country travel costs. The 88s may be dead but its legacy lives on in many ways like with former players like Engelland, Hegwood, and Lowe being coaches. Thibualt became a WNBA coaching success. Don't think the 88s are forgotten there. Then came the dubiously-operated Calgary Drillers in the ABA. But right now, the Calgary pro basketball team that best emulates the 88s in a lot of ways plays right now at the SAIT Gymnasium called the Calgary Crush, only one other difference lies in using Canadian players, mostly former local university stars from the Dinos and Mount Royal. The Crush being among the better and stable ABA teams could possibly explore a NBL Canada move if the league decides to go on a westward expansion.
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