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Old 16-04-2013, 06:30 AM   #26
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Back in the late 1990s a new league was being built up just as we Americans were about to have another helping of the alphabet soup minor league basketball that was continues to this day after the WBL and the GBA all bit the dust with the USBLs, the CBAs, and the IBAs remained standing, each save for the CBA with more of a regional focus. The International Basketball League--not to be confused with the current incarnation with several Pacific Northwest-based franchises--supposedly aspired to tap into markets that did not have a NBA team in them, now with so much depth of American basketball players the nation has produced (and continues to do so) and having a place to play within US borders.

All this was coming at a time when the major pro leagues (and even more recent start-up ones like the MLS, NLL, Arena Football League, WNBA, ABL, and WUSA) in the 90s were enduring a sports boom with expansion, new arenas and stadiums, the increasingly-important corporate revenues, boffo multiyear TV deals, regional sports TV cable networks hungry for programming, massive merchandise sales and deals, and generating globalizing interests with no apparent rival leagues like those big four had to endure back in the 1970s. All of which for the hearts and minds of the American and Canadian public. But tickets were getting pricier, which has as much to do with people are willing shelve out and of the free market will bear. Mention those minor leagues including the ones I discuss here on these threads, they immensely lack the Q ratings. I guess that's not the entire point in them, but awareness is needed to let the people know they're out there, which is why it seems those big leagues tend to act like a cartel of sorts to me. This IBL was hoping to have at least a share of this when it was taking shape back in 1998 with the promise of "celebrity owners" as investors and "affordable high-value, family-friendly entertainment" on its website. Cal Ripken Jr., Baltimore Orioles legend, had a minority stake in the BayRunners while the league owned both Baltimore and Las Vegas; his likeness and name was plastered in all of the BayRunners' promotions. Oscar Robertson was a part-owner the Cincinnati Stuff

This IBL had a focus on placing franchises in several cities that were former NBA cities like St. Louis (Swarm), Baltimore (BayRunners), Cincinnati (Stuff), and San Diego (Stingrays) with even an old one from the ABA days in Richmond (Rhythym) with few others with prior minor league basketball experience with Las Vegas (Silver Bandits) and Alberquerque (New Mexico Slam). Like with the WBL and CBA, the IBL was cross-country with its attempt at getting some notable basketball talent for local fans can indentify on the rosters like with former UNLV, Cincinnati, Maryland, George Washington, Kentucky, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Missouri stars who didn't pan out at the NBA level, got cut at NBA training camps, and/or went overseas professionally. Not surprisingly, the teams had some polished high-level talent with the talent close to NBA-level but not there and some notable names roaming the sidelines. Larry Brown's brother Herb ran the show in Baltimore in another of minor league coaching endavors he had like with the CBA's Puerto Rico Coquis and the up-temponess for Shawnta Rodgers as the PG. Former Virginia All-American Ralph Simpson was the Richmond Rhythym head coach, and before him, ex-Charlotte Hornets coach Allan Bristow. Lionel Hollins, now the Memphis Grizzlies coach, was there for Las Vegas fresh being with Grizzlies when it was still in Vancouver before the new ownership change when original Silver Bandits coach Rolland Todd, formerly with UNLV and the Portland Trail Blazers, left. Kevin Mackey, who made his name nationally back in 1986 when his Cleveland St. Vikings upset Indiana and St. Joseph's in the NCAA Tournament that year, manned the Trenton Shooting Stars as tried to rebuild his coaching career as an admitted crackhead. Stingrays' coach Smokey Gaines did likewise previously for the San Diego St. Aztecs then later assistant Jeff Malone after 13 games. The well-respected Bernie Bickerstaff coached the Swarm.

I was glad St. Louis had another pro basketball franchise again, first time and closest in terms of top-level since the Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA for two seasons in 1974-76. Didn't care whether there this was not NBA or not; I followed more lower-tiered sports leagues as much as the bigger ones because I thought they were more interesting with an unstable and unfavo(u)rable landscape and all the unpredictability. Problem is, their home games at the St. Louis Family Arena were too distant for me since I couldn't take a bus to get to there across the Missouri River to St. Charles. If home games were held downtown, I would have been more likely to attend a game or two. The Swarm got decent coverage during the NBA offseason with former Mizzou great Doug Smith as the public face of the team. It also had Kareem Abdul Jabbar Jr. out of Western Kentucky, shooter Derek Grimm, Donald Watts (son of Sonics legend Donald "Slick" Watts), and for a time Leon Smith. They were an on-court success and among the league leaders in attendance with 4515 in the first season but declined to 3324 the next in the face of ownership aiming for 6000 per game at the Family Arena. So much so in their on-court success, they won back-to-back IBL championships with a league-best 47-17 and 43-7 records in each of those two seasons. In fact, the Swarm are the only IBL champions.

I don't recall the IBL ever having a TV deal, not even locally. If there was I'll find out eventually. In the second season, the Baltimore BayRunners and the San Diego Stingrays, largely remembered for having in a span of 13 games New Orleans rapper Master P (real name: Percy Miller), who was big in the rap world back then with his No Limit record label and notably tried out for the Charlotte Hornets before continuing on his hoop dreams with the Las Vegas Rattlers in the ABA, both folded. UCLA star Ed O'Bannon played for Las Vegas in the league's final days after his time with the NBA didn't work out; he still lives there now as a car salesman and fighting the NCAA in that lawsuit.

The league didn't meet expectations when it came to attendance but soldiered on for what turned out to be its second and final season. I think what partly happened was when you have the NBA and NCAA dominating that time of the basketball season, it's hard for young leagues to gain a potent foothold even in non-NBA markets for the pub it could get due to the public's unfamiliarity (remember the cartel argument earlier). The New Mexico Slam had financial problems in the second season, and the league had to take over the Slam's operations. Fugitive teams from the then-defunct CBA like the Connecticut Pride, Gary Steelheads, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Grand Rapids Hoops, and the Rockford Lightning got absorbed into the IBL in early 2000 (Sioux Falls continues on in the NBDL). Those teams later joined a restarted CBA. The IBL did had some interesting developments like employing the now-defunct FIBA trapazoid lanes and FIBA's three-point line during a 50-54-game regular season schedule, but the league's structural costs exceeded the revenue and attendance figures the IBL got up to 2000 with all of the teams soon folding afterwards, despite public proclamations of a third season for 2000-2001. When the NBA established the NBDL, that was the final nail in the IBL's coffin. That new league mandated the IBL's eradication.

Baltimore Sun 1999 article about the IBL At A Glance:
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/199...outlook-ripken

Brief Riverfront Times piece awarding the St. Louis Swarm as Best Local Minor League Team back in RFT's Best of St. Louis 2001:
http://www.riverfronttimes.com/besto...ue-team-30975/
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Old 16-04-2013, 08:28 AM   #27
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Molly Bolin's interview by Andy Crossley on Fun While It Lasted inspired me to find some whatever info exists on the VERY short-lived Ladies Professional Basketball Association that featured the Southern California Breeze and its maverick, colo(u)rful Aussie coach Ken Cole. It was established in 1980 with the idea of competing against the WBL. Problem was, the United States wasn't quite ready as a whole to embrace women's pro basketball in the mainstream, let alone to have two leagues going at each other at once. Bolin left the WBL's Iowa Cornets to play for the Breeze in 1980. Not much surviving info about it exists online. Consequently, it doesn't even register in the eyes of many women's basketball fans like the even the WBL does.

The league had 6 teams, all out West--the Southern California Breeze, New Mexico Energee, Phoenix Flames, Oakland Outlaws, San Jose Chips, and the Tuscon Storm. This was likely done to cut down the all-important travel costs for such a fledging and unproven league. At the time, the Bay Area already had the San Francisco Pioneers as the perceived go-to women's pro basketball team in the eyes of many SF Bay Area residents. Why did the Bay Area all of the sudden got two more at the other major parts of the big SF Bay Area triangle? Surely, neither Oakland and San Jose had solid access to decent facilities to play ball. I imagine it was more like in the ABA now, playing at high school gyms, community centers, and older pavillions.

The LPBA played only 7 games into the season before folding up shop for good when it realized how very woefully undercapitalized the whole league. The beloved Molly Bollin, meanwhile, was averaging 40 points per game for Southern California before taking her sharpshooting talents up the coast for the WBL's San Francisco Pioneers. Apparently, Southern California was based in the Greater Los Angeles Area, not San Diego. So that took care of that important market--no LA-based WBL team ever existed during that league's duration. But when the WBL was getting some limited pub, imagine how hard it was for the LPBA to have its shine on. Many went on overseas for FAR more stable pay with a few, like Machine Gun Molly, heading to the WBL.

The WBL was the first women's pro basketball league to actually begin play. The first attempt actually came back in 1975 from the WPBA, a year before women's basketball made it Olympic debut. Had the league survived, Olympic basketball from Montreal would grant it much-needed inertia in exposure. Women's basketball in the 1970s was starting to earn some TV exposure, mostly with colleges and with AIAW ball, though nowhere near as the men's game during the feminist movement's height was raging. Cable TV was just about a few years away. However at the time, there apparently weren't that much national widespread depth of talent suitable for a league; many colleges and universities nationally were just starting their women's basketball programs. Had eight teams slated for it with feminized nicknames for two: the Indianapolis Pink Panthers, Arkansas Lassies, Atlanta, Greenville, Winston-Salem, and Nashville. Pat Head Summitt was about to embark on a legendary coaching career at Tennessee as its first head coach for a pittance. As a Tennessee native, it kinda makes you wonder a bit, if the league was really to tip-off, could Summitt played there for Nashville?

ESPN's sports jersey afficionado Paul Lukas looks back at those snug Liberty Basketball Association compression jerseys that weren't very flattering to the players, pioneering the way for Australia's Opals and WNBL and the Brazilians, recalling on its world premiere (and its only game). All with the colo(u)rs that screamed the early 1990s back then.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...n&sportCat=nba
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Old 25-04-2013, 06:13 AM   #28
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Super-obscure pro basketball league in the late 1970s (1978, to be exact). Came at around the same period as the Western Basketball Association. This league was to rival the Eastern Basketball Association in its talent level. But died a very quick death after only playing a month into what was planned to be a 74-game schedule with only two of them played 10-12 games. The league's name was the All-American Basketball Alliance, a place for NBA and EBA training camp rejects and refugees from the American Basketball Association.

Franchises were based mostly on the East with exceptions based in Indianapolis (the winless Indiana Wizards at 0- and Louisville (the Kentucky Stallions): New York Guard, Carolina Lightning, Georgia Titans (not in Atlanta, but in Macon), Richmond Virginians, Rochester Zeniths, and the West Virginia Wheels. The Rochester Zeniths, named for owner Dick Hill's TV dealership and repair shop, was by far the best squad in this league at 10-1 helmed by minor basketball coaching legend Mauro Panaggio. Best-known player for the Zeniths? NBA journeyman Willie Norwood. Not the team's leading scorer though. That honour on the team went to Eddie Owens at 25.6 ppg. The Zeniths were the only team in the 8-team league that was drawing fans on a satisfactory basis at the War Memorial Arena when the league folded in February 1978. Their home debut was against the White Plains-based New York Guard coached by former Knicks coach and its long-time scout Andrew "Fuzzy" Levane and had the eccentric NY streetball legend Fly Williams (formerly of the Austin Peay and the ABA's Spirits of St. Louis), team leading scorer Larry McNeill, former St. John's player and the Knicks 1st round draft pick Mel Davis, and young center Major Jones, who went on play in the NBA for 6 years for the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons. Rochester defeated New York 129-110 in their home opener on January 11, 1978.

In a scanario that is so frequently typical with several basketball leagues, especially in this late 1970s-mid 1980s era, many teams in this league were so under-financed to the point of hilarity. The Indiana Wizards obviously couldn't compete for the basketball-worshipping fans' attention in Indianapolis with the Pacers already establishing themselves in the NBA, despite having former Pacers stars like Bob Netolicky, Roger Brown, and player/coach Freddie Lewis and playing at the Pacers' old home at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum. They finished at 0-8. Fans in many of the league's cities languished in the low hundreds for home games, some of them like Richmond were perhaps burnt out because of the ABA experience. Like with a lot of leagues, it had notable players from those areas to drum potential fan interest.

Owens was losing money, but, as the best team there in the AABA, he decided to pull stakes and move into the CBA, where the reorganized Zeniths stayed for 5 seasons before folding in 1983. Funnily enough, the Zeniths' last game was their only loss. To Richmond on February 2. 135-125. Meanwhile, the New York Guard folded after just 9 games.

Other notable names in this league include Mike Dunleavy Sr. (in his first foray as a player/coach) and the late Ed Manning (Danny's dad, player/assistant coach) at the Carolina Lightning and Kentucky's Bobby Wilson, league's leading scorer.

Fun While It Lasted's Andy Crossley discusses this Zeniths home opener scorecard from their game against the New York Guard.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...ew-york-guard/

APBR's page devoted to the All-American Basketball Alliance:
http://www.apbr.org/aabahist.html
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Old 23-05-2013, 05:28 AM   #29
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Remember that 1980 7UP commercial that had New Jersey Gems star Ann Meyers (now Phoenix Mercury GM and Suns TV analyst) and Magic Johnson I linked to you sometime back? Now with the good help of Fun While It Lasted's Andy Crossley, I can talk about this New Jersey Gems franchise, the only WBL franchise that existed in all of its seasons from 1978-1981.

On paper it seems the New Jersey Gems seemed destined to have the finest talent in women's basketball legends Ann Meyers and Carol Blazejowski, both of whom are still making great contributions to women's basketball to this day. Both had big (for its time in women's pro team sports) contracts $130,000 for Meyers and $150,000 for Blazejowski, far greater than the average player for a WBL player then that was $10K. And the Gems also had the late Kaye Young and future WNBA commissioner Donna Orender (nee Geils) from Queens College. Meyers, the first UCLA female student-athlete to earn a full ride scholarship to the school and the first 4x women's All-American, was the most marketable and one of the best-known women's basketball stars at the time who made national headlines by trying out for the Indiana Pacers and signed her a rookie contract until she was shortly cut and moved into broadcasting. But nothing seems to click for them until the final season in 1980-1981 when they made the postseason until Nancy Lieberman and the Dallas Diamonds showed them the door in 1981 in the semis--and that was after Meyers left before the 1980-81 season because her checks stopped coming in the summer of 1980. Shame that her pro career was over after that MVP season the season before in 1979-80 and had a chance to be really dominant and unstoppable in the pro game. Equally a shame was how underachieving the Gems were in all three WBL seasons with the on paper talent they had. Should've won a title.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...w-jersey-gems/
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:15 AM   #30
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In 1991, the Las Vegas Silver Streaks took its carcass (including six of its players like Queenan) across the national from the desert to Music City USA after three consistently-winning years in Sin City. For the rechristianed Nashville Stars, the WBL recruited an 11-team consortium of investors led by travel magnate Ronnie Steine (now a Nashville city councilman). The Stars, however, weren't successful in "The Athens of The South" and missed the playoffs. But the off-court handling of the Stars in a rising city was so half-assed and shoestring attandance would be below 200 fans per game at the Municipal Auditorium. Rudi Schiffer, a longtime Tennessee pro sports promoter (Memphis Rouges, Memphis Showboats, Calgary Boomers, Nashville Stars), noted this to Fun While It Lasted. The Stars quietly folded during the 1991 WBL postseason, a year before the entire WBL did before the Phar-Mor/WBL/Mickey Monus scandal.

Interesting to note that Las Vegas/Nashville shooters Jaime Weller and Darren Queenan eventually never saw NBA play, likely because of their size and the league's coaches and scouts felt they already have enough scorers. But one of their LV/Nashville teammates did in Cedric Hunter. Hunter ended up with the briefest of NBA call-ups when he played for the Charlotte Hornets on February 16, 1992: he played one game and one minute. Never to be seen in the NBA again turned out.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2012...shville-stars/
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:22 AM   #31
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Perhaps the Vancouver Nighthawks are so popular here thanks with the Vancouver Grizzlies thread that maybe it would be good to place the one season WBL wonder, if you can call it that, here as well. It will help them get known to basketball fans not just limited to Australasia.

Vancouver Courier's new article remembering the forlorn WBL Nighthawks franchise in its only year of existence, updating what it had several years ago. They tried to get Canadian stars Jay Triano and Eli Pasqaule but didn't due to their Canadian Olympic committments.
http://www.vancourier.com/sports/Rem...140/story.html

Vancouver Nighthawks videos on You Tube. Mostly news reports like "The Incredible Shrinking Man" Andre Patterson saga and the tryouts, wrestling promotions, and even a rare promo. Too bad there's no Nighthawks action in them
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMthyGDBLa0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s3uRYPGoc4

Bill Westphal, brother of former NBA All-Star and later coach Paul, had to resign from being the Vancouver Nighhawks coach before actually hitting the hardwood because NCAA rules forbid coaches from doing jobs from both the college (he was coaching Occidental College then) and pro worlds at the time.
http://articles.latimes.com/1988-04-..._paul-westphal

There's a Filipino connection to this team for those who are interested in basketball in The Philippines: the late Ricardo "Ricric" Marata was lured into with false promises in a forgettable stint in North America with the Nighthawks way back in 1988 for poor Ricric who was too trusting. To cut a long story short, Marata got to Canada but he never saw playing time in Vancouver. So he returned.

If I remember correctly, RFM's Joey Concepcion had to bail out poor RicRic from the purgatory of a foreign minor league that was the WBL.

Found this little archival March 19, 1989 piece online from the Lethbridge Herald via the Canadian Press with the Nighthawks becoming the Kodiaks. Or ther Kodiaks replacing the Nighthawks. No Kodiaks logo was ever made:

WBL returns to Vancouver--VANCOUVER CP

Professional basketball will return to Vancouver this summer for a second season The West Coast city will have a newly created franchise in the World Basketball League with the inclusion of the expansion Kodiaks for the 1989 season, it was announced Friday. Vancouver learned they will play two home games at the Union Club as the WBL incorporates international games into its schedule and standings. WBL commissioner Steve Erhart told a news conference. The Kodiaks were formed under new ownership after Vancouver's 1988 team in the WBL the Nighlhawks folded in a sea of debt following the season. Ehrhart said the success of Calgary under local ownership last year during the inaugural season convinced league that Vancouver could also be a viable Canadian franchise.

The league ran the Nighthawks for two months last year after owner Harald Burns of Los Angeles pulled up slakes as debt reached an estimated $2 million. Ehrhart said teams from Russia, Sweden, and Finland will play against WBL clubs this summer with the results that will count in the league standings. "Vancouver is the jumping off point of the Pacific Rim, and that's where the World Basketball League is," said Ehrhart. The new local ownership makes Vancouver attractive to the WBL. The Nighthawks finished last in the WBL with a 19-38 record. Head coach Mike Frink will return, however, to direct the Kodiaks. The new general manager is Vancouver businessman Joel Loreth. "We like his vision of things," said Forsyth, "especially the flair of playing with the Russians."

The WBL is a summer league formed for players who are less than six feet five inches in height. Teams from Russia, Sweden, and Finland will play against WBL clubs this summer with the results to count in league standings. "We're going to be the first league in to have international teams in games that count," said Ehrhart. "Other pro leagues now are thinking about copying us!"
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Old 20-06-2013, 06:51 AM   #32
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All this talk of a possible second Canadian pro basketball league with the CBL along with NBL Canada has reignited my interest in talking about the earlier and original NBL that existed briefly back in the early 1990s and was truly national. This NBL garnered little pub. The Internet was still in its infacy and apparently there was never a website for it. Like with NBL Canada we have now, the original NBL existed with Canadian-based teams out of another US-based league. But unlike that one, those teams came from one that collasped becuase of a scandal. Little stuff exists or is accessible about the NBL today because of its brief history. Fun While It Lasted hasn't even touched on those teams yet. I'll do a two-parter for this.

The NBL arose from the ashes of the WBL that folded from the Phar-Mor/Mickey Monus scandal. In a move that seems familiar with the Halifax Rainmen, Saint John Mill Rats, and the Quebec Kebs, the Canadian WBL teams--Halifax Windjammers, the Hamilton Skyhawks, and the Winnipeg Thunder--all vowed fans will see play from them. Attendance was solid for those three. So why not form our own distinctly Canadian league? Canada never had a solely based pro basketball league--any Canadian franchise was part of a US-based league. So this was a great chance to make pro basketball more accessible. They needed more teams across Canada to do this with to make it respectable. So investors were brought in for teams in Cape Breton (to give Halifax a rival in the Nova Scotia province), and Montreal. League brass wanted to be taken seriously in the Canadian basketball public by placing teams in several of the top Canadian cities and those have a strong local basketball culture at the time. Vancouver, Victoria, Quebec City, Saint John, Moncton, Ottawa, and Edmonton never made the final cut for various reasons. Toronto, liking to see itself as the Canadian commercial gateway to the US, wasn't an option because of its NBA expansion pursuit. Surprisingly, the best Canadian WBL teams, the Calgary 88s and the Saskatchewan Storm, declined to participate in this and both folded. But eventually both Calgary and Saskatoon made the league with the Calgary Outlaws coming in 1994 and the Saskatoon Storm coming in as an expansion team the previous year in 1993. Understanding fans were more likely to turn up in arenas with little sports competition during the summer, the NBL teams continued to operate under a summer schedule just like they did in the WBL.
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Old 09-07-2013, 07:28 AM   #33
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The original NBL Canada will return soon. But now time for another installment of a defunct ABL women's basketball franchise that was the last installment of women's pro basketball in the Bay Area after the San Francisco Pioneers. The San Jose Lasers, a team that had a mediocre record yet scrapped into the playoffs. Its home games were divded between both at San Jose Events Center and the San Jose Arena (now the HP Pavillion) before the entire league collapsed middle of the third season. What's disappointing here in the entry is the lack of on-court mentioning. Its notable players include Demi Moore lookalike (to me, anyway) Jennifer Azzi, Opal star Shelley Sandie, Sherrie Sam, ex-Stanford star Sonja Henning, Anna DeForge, Mozambique's Clarisse Machanguana, Jenni Ruff, Kendra Holland-Korn, Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil, Val Whiting, Trisha Stafford, Charlotte Smith, and Katryna Gaither.

What was unique to the ABL and to the Lasers was, unlike all the rest of the teams that were single-entity owned like the MLS and WNBA franchises at the time, San Jose allowed venture capitalists Joe Lacob of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers making an equity investment in the ABL in the spring of 1997 and later purchased operating rights to the Lasers shortly before the team’s second season got underway (Like with MLS, the ABL did permit single ownership of the team's operations to individual franchises though few ABL teams ended up with such investors). Following the ABL's abrupt death, Lacob became a Boston Celtics minority partner in 2006. In 2010, a Lacob-led group acquired ownership of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors for $450 million from Chris Cohen. The Bay Area hasn't since high level women's pro basketball since the Lasers.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...n-jose-lasers/

San Jose Lasers fan website:
http://www.nil.org/observer/

Good to see some recognition coming Molly Bolin's way these days. Slam Magazine is the latest--and the biggest platform--to do so with its Old School profile on Machine Gun Molly.
http://www.slamonline.com/online/oth...the-forgotten/
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Old 19-07-2013, 05:12 AM   #34
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First two entries of teams from the very much forgotten All-American Basketball Alliance, a typical minor pro basketball league that abruptly died 30 days after its tip-off. Promised to pay $100 per game to its players--and failing in that when the league's investors quickly ran out of money and were so clueless in how to operate a pro sports league. Meant to be a pro basketball outlet for former ABA players left unemployed following the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. Even some NBA players on the fringes played there too. Ex-Indiana Pacers (the ABA era) were all over this league. So much so it was almost like an Indiana Pacers Legends Revival.

Kentucky Stallions started things in the AABA with hosting a four-team doubleheader at the old Louisville Gardens.

Kentucky Stallions

West Virginia Wheels (reminds me a bit of the Rochester RazorSharks in which the owner also runs the league)
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Old 24-07-2013, 08:54 AM   #35
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Two more defunct World Basketball League franchise to look back upon. One that fidn't get a chance to complete its debut year, the league's final in 1992. Another that was stable somewhat, at least stayed in the state, and endured for three years.

The Jacksonville Stingrays, if they are remembered at all, are known not for their on-court affairs, which weren't many at a 5-14 record and averaging 579 fans in eight home games at the 10,000-seat Jacksonville Coliseum, but more for the league's off-court issues surrounding and impacting the short-lived expansion team, just as the league's criminal foundation came tumbling down. Jacksonville and another Florida-based team, the Florida Jades from Bacon Raton, disbanded on June 15, 1992. The midseason.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...lle-stingrays/

Very rarely-seen Jacksonville Stingrays logo (not much to look at anyway, not even Wikipedia has this in its very low key entry for it): http://www.logoserver.com/WBL.html

Even when it had notable players with Chicago ties like Loyola Ramblers' and former Spur All-WBL Alfredrick Hughes (borderline at its height limit) and Michael Jordan's older bro Larry, they weren't enough to have the Illinois Express generate lots of fans in suburban Chicago. Though it later did in Springfield.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...inois-express/
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:57 AM   #36
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The Seattle Reign from the ABL was a very cleverly-named team. When I first heard that back then, I instantly thought about the Reign Man Shawn Kemp who dominated Seattle basketball back then, shooters like to "make it rain" on the hardwood, and of the fact that it rains a lot in Seattle. It was one of those places where women's basketball was truly fertile enough then to field a pro franchise and of the success of the University of Washington women's team. Venus Lacy, an original pick for Seattle, couldn't join due to a stress fracture injury and was sent to the Long Beach Stingrays. Consequently Seattle didn't make the playoffs. But it did succeed with two of the best women's basketball players at the time in decorated All-American from Stanford Katie Starbird (who has Seattle ties) and Alabama's Sholonda Enis, both of whom whose impacts were immediate in the second season. Starbird had one of the biggest contracts and endorsements at the time for an American women's basketball player. Though they played at the small Mercer Arena for many home games and sometimes at the Key Arena, the Seattle Reign enjoyed having some of the most passionate fans in the ABL. Shame they couldn't keep it going when the ABL went under due to its financial woes and the whole league got shut down for good very close to Christmas. But it lives on in a way with the Seattle Storm and in a Seattle NWSL women's soccer team named in the Reign's honor. A nice tribute.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...seattle-reign/

One of the original ABL teams from the start in 1996, the Portland Power. Natalie Williams, an All-American from UCLA in both basketball and volleyball and daughter of former NBA player Nate Williams, was the MVP face of the Portland Power down the road from the Seattle Reign even with local star Katy Steding. But she exercized her clause in her Power contract to head back to Southern California and play for the Long Beach Stingrays. At first, it was assumed it was to hobble Portland. But when she arrived, the Stingrays were a total financial wreck and were contracted with Atlanta in the summer 1999. With Long Beach gone, Williams returned to Portland. But it wasn't long before the ABL as a whole disappeared too. Portland returned to women's pro basketball with the WNBA Portland Fire owned by Trailblazers and Seahawks owner Paul Allen. Though it lasted three seasons like the Power, the Fire was worse on-court.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...ortland-power/
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Old 13-08-2013, 06:48 AM   #37
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We got our first team entry of the very brief LPBA back in 1980 from Fun While It Lasted. It's the New Mexico Energee based in the New Mexico capital Albuquerque. It was supposed to be the Western rival for the more nationwide WBL, which actually had a team in San Francisco called the Pioneers playing but was contracting due to mounting financial issues. By the time this LBPA league got started in early December 1980, 2 teams folded--San Jose and Tuscon. Sure sign of trouble right there. The former easily made the Pioneers (and Oakland) the winners of that Bay Area women's basketball battle. But not the long-term war. Only four teams ended up playing--New Mexico, Phoenix, Southern California, and Oakland. As with any fledging lower-tiered and unproven (in mainstream conscious) league like with women's pro basketball during this era, it had ill-planned and financially ill-equipped owners, leading the whole league to terminate itself a few days prior to Christmas 1980 after five games on or near December 23, 1980. The New Mexico Energee itself played three with a 1-2 record at the time with combined attendance at the Albuquerque Civic Center at 3174 in its two home games.

One interesting aspect lied in its coach, Norm Ellenberger, the disgraced former New Mexico Lobos head coach. Ellenberger was still under grand jury indictment at the time for fraud-connected activities in the "Lobogate" academic scandal as Energee coach.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...exico-energee/

Oh dear...The New England Gulls. By far the worst team ever in the struggling WBL. None of it was ever the players' and coaches' fault, for there were good ones including 6′ 3″ center Althea Gwynn and Canadian national team member Chris Critelli. Former Boston Celtics star “Jungle” Jim Loscutoff (fleetingly) was coach. All signs of blame and incompetence aim at Massachusetts liquor store magnate Joseph Reither, whose allergies include making payroll, operating in a non-bush league manner, and having his players feel like family. Surely you read of other WBL teams here not having money for food, rent, gas, and utilities. But the Gulls were the worst at it. And it turned out to be the WBL's final season. All coming to such an antagonistic end when the San Francisco Pioneers came to town in Portland, Maine in front of 100 spectators milling about. Just read on.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...england-gulls/

Nice find from former Dallas Diamond assistant coach Tom Davis of the box score of a December 5, 1980 meeting of his Diamonds at home with the New Jersey Gems at Southern Methodist University's Moody Coliseum. A 102-87 Dallas win. More importantly, it's about the first pro meeting between the highly touted rookies Nancy Lieberman (Dallas) and Carol Blazejowski (New Jersey), both of whom were counted on to revive the WPBL's deteriorating fortunes. Understandably prospective fans were skeptical at first with attendance at the 2000 plateau. The previously-last place Diamonds, however, did raise their home attendance average to 6000 as the season went on and moved up to the playoffs and onto the final WPBL championship series they lost. Such a shame that Blazejowski ended her pro career at the demise of the WPBL; she would've enjoyed a decorated pro career no doubt if there were more solvent US women's pro basketball leagues during the 1980s and early 1990s. Should've also played in Moscow if not for the boycott. She's enshrined at Naismith on the strength of her stellar Old Dominion days. Or maybe followed Nancy Lieberman's lead.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...w-jersey-gems/

Many of us basketball fans know Scott Brooks now and best as the acclaimed Oklahoma City Thunder head coach with a 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Year Award. But for as someone hard core as I am, Brooks had a journeyman career playing in the NBA (like in Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles Clippers) and in various minor pro leagues and even overseas after being a UC-Irvine Anteater with fellow future NBAer Todd Murphy as a teammate. His pro start came in the WBL with the Fresno Flames that embraced his 5'11" height back in 1988. Fresno had an interesting beginning to its only season. Wyoming Wildcatters' owner John O'Donnell from Newport Beach was also the original Flames owner but quickly ran into money woes in February 1988, forcing him to relinquish the Wyoming franchise to the league and even folding Fresno. All O'Donnell did as owner was hire GM Al Geller and former longtime Kansas Jayhawks coach Ted Owens (1965-1983)--he preceeded Larry Brown in Jayhawk Land--as Flames coach, although Owens claims he never received a check from the cash-strapped O'Donnell.

Team was $75,000 in debt. It took Fresno car dealer Edd Becker to resurrect the Flames in time for the WBL's May 1988 debut. Even with Brooks as a star, the Fresno Flames went a mediocre 25-29 in the 1988 season, fifth in a six-team season with Worcester, Calgary, Las Vegas, Rockford, and Vancouver as the other charter franchise. Becker endured close to $1 million loss from disappointing attendance at 1549 at the Selland Arena at the Fresno St. campus and further season ticket deposits with 100. Writing was on the wall with the local apathy to end this on March 23, 1989 before the second season. Dying with the Vancouver Nighthawks (or Kodiaks as they were planned to be in 1989). Also, didn't know until now the WBL was formerly the International Basketball Association under a haste rebranding and re-activity.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...fresno-flames/

The next-to-last link mentions there was a unnamed proposed Toronto IBA/WBL franchise that ended up moving to Buffalo due to favo(u)rable currency exchanges--it never played. With Toronto as the more corporate and more sports-friendly Canadian city, how come Calgary and Vancouver stuck around and never moved south of the border?
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:24 AM   #38
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Talked about the IBL's Baltimore BayRunners in an earlier post here. Fun While It Lasted's Andy Crossley gets to write his tidbit about the doomed franchise that lasted only one season and would've played the IBL's second season if the league nabbed additional investors. Doomed from the start when the league, headquartered in Baltimore and surely wanted a franchise there, couldn't get independent ownership like Las Vegas did at the same time. But Baltimore Orioles shortstop legend Cal Ripken Jr. stepped in to buy a 10% ownership stake. Even when Herb Brown as head coach for up to 30 games. Even with the bad attitude Clifford Rozier (let go after 3 games into the season), the troubled Lloyd "Sweetpea" Daniels (he's back here again!), and Baltimore natives 5-4 Shawtae Rogers (former George Washington star and at Lake Clifton High) and Bayrunners team MVP Rodney Elliott (Dunbar High, Maryland Terrapins). This piece reminded me that the IBL and the CBA, of which the IBL was a similar minor league basketball rival and both ended up financially bleeding, planned to merge.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...re-bayrunners/
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:40 AM   #39
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Very little online articles or any stuff exists about the Jacksonville Stingrays. Just blurbs; I can't even name any players who played there to be honest with you. That illustrates how very low-tiered that franchise was with all of the focus came off the court with WBL taking it all down. Do you also recall the Jacksonville Jets, the Jacksonville Shooters, Jacksonville Barracudas, and the Jacksonville Hooters? No? You're not alone with many. This Wednesday August 12, 1998 Jacksonville.com article covers the inglorious track record Jacksonville has with minor league basketball at that point until the ABA's Jacksonville Giants eventually became a success years later this.
http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/st..._1c1bianc.html

Keith Smart's time with the Worcester Counts in the WBL briefly gets a nod during a Phoenix Suns home against his Sacramento Kings live on FOX Sports Arizona:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLr6Jh3OMCs
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Old 25-09-2013, 07:56 AM   #40
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ABL women's basketball time again here. Welcome back to the hallows of defunct franchises that need to be remembered by all.

The Richmond Rage assembled some great talent on their roster with All-ABLers former University of Virginia All-American and eventual 3x gold medalist Dawn Staley, Taj McWilliams, Adrien Goodison. Curiously, the Rage had Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the 1988 and 1992 Olympic gold medalist heptathlete fresh from her Atlanta 1996 bronze in the long jump who did play basketball at UCLA during the early 1980s as an All-Pac 10 player but didn't play competitive basketball in a decade afterwards. Her skills eroded by then and averaged 0.9 ppg as a bench player. Things couldn't come together during the regular season but the Rage turned it on in the playoffs in 1996. Attendance at the Richmond Coliseum and University of Richmond's Robbins Center wasn't far off from league average in their 20 games. The Rage had money losses ranging from $500-600,000 in its sole season in Richmond. Team went up to Philadelphia before the next season, where it assumed that with Philadelphia fans are more appreciative and educated about basketball--not to mention being Dawn Staley's hometown. Fared worse there finishing in last next season and succumbed to the league's abrubt entire folding in December 1998.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...richmond-rage/

Started in Springfield, Massachusetts but was a wild success in Hartford, Connecticut thanks to its former UCONN stars like Jen Rizzotti and Kara Wolters. UCONN's massive celebrated success in women's basketball that still continues to this day paved the way for the New England Blizzard (and later the Connecticut Sun) to exist, with it adopting UCONN's traditions and popularity. Even tapping into recent New England pro basketball success with well-regarded former Boston Celtics coach K.C. Jones roaming the sidelines. Rebecca Lobo, the best known women's basketball player at the time, resisted tremendous pressure to play professionally for the Blizzard even with the prospect of reteaming with a couple of ex-UCONN teammates enticing and opted for the WNBA's New York Liberty, the northernmost franchise in the league then. Besides, Hartford was ready for some more pro sports with the NHL's Hartford Whalers' looming departure for Raliegh, North Carolina (via Greensboro) as the Carolina Hurricanes. But leading the league in attendance and strong sponsorship in the insurance capital wasn't widespread outside New England in the ABL. Put it this way: the ABL had the better overall talent but the WNBA had the better marketing, sports calendar timing, and TV deals. Bad timing abounded when Phoenix Home Life Insurance decided to exercize its option on the Blizzard in the last days of the ABL and was left owing $6 million.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...land-blizzard/

A recap of the somewhat non-exciting 1998 ABL All-Star Game at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, the ironic home of the WNBA Orlando Miracle. Turned out it was the final one the troubled league would have. Interestingly, league CEO Gary Cavalli told the media then of potential ABL-WNBA All-Star Games in the future. Would've ben nice and interesting to see happen. Should've had your house in order or offer a merger.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...all-star-game/
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:12 AM   #41
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Glad the St. Louis Streak, a team from the WBL, gets a Fun While It Lasted entry like I knew they eventually would. My earliest memory of the St. Louis Streak comes from reading the monthly events calendar section and brief articles of vintage St. Louis magazines dating from the early 1980s and of the WBL standings I would eventually clip from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat's sports section from that same era as I was developing my hardcore sports knowledge and satisfying my curiousities as a little kid. Didn't get a chance to know them well back then; the Streak ceased operations along with the rest of the league several years prior and were thus quickly forgotten by then. Didn't know the players' names. All I knew were bits and pieces of them but never fully. Can't ever recall their games were ever on local TV or even retrospective pieces on local sports programs--MISL's St. Louis Steamers were a major success and enjoyed beneficial TV support back then as local celebs.

If you thought the "talented but spoiled egos" of today's male pro sports superstars with all their millions were huge now and seeing female pro athletes generally not being the case and being approachable/grounded and "good role models", wait til you read about Canadian then-28-year old Liz "Liz The Wiz" Silcott, who was so "talented" but an "emotionally immature, un-coachable player and despised teammate who loathed practice and had little interest in defense" from back in the late 1970s and early 80s. Sound familiar? She was off and on the Canadian women's basketball team and butted heads with fire-breathing dragon Streak coach from the college ranks 30-year old Larry Gillman, who was equally despised if not more so by his Streak's own players, upon constantly seeing her "dreadful habits". Great scorer that Silcott was and can rival Machine Gun Molly Bolin in that department--Silcott was eventually the WBL's second leading scorer (scored a record 50 points against the Minnesota Fillies) and they were even teammates later in San Francisco after St. Louis had enough of her foolishness until eventually the SF Pioneers grew tired of her too in 1980. When Silcott was on especially as a scorer, the St. Louis Streak were playoff contenders and winning following a 0-4 start until she got shipped. At that time the local press got note of the fleeting success--never read any newspaper articles on them I can recall but might see them in microfiche at the library--amplifying their loggerheads even further. No Liz the Wiz, the Streak collapsed in their first season not to make the playoffs and never recovered while installing eight rookies in their equally uncompetitive second and final season. Makes me wonder what if Silcott contained more maturity and Gillman never mixed fear and loathing upon his players. Could they have won a title if the WBL was more stable?

Montreal's Silcott never played another pro season after 1979-80. And Liz The Wiz's demise is very sad. We could've had her in the conversation as one of the greatest Canadian women's basketball players ever.

The St. Louis Streak's young owner Vince Gennaro, who also had a passion for baseball and an early champ of data analysis, made a greater name for himself with sabremetrics

The Streak remains my hometown's only bigtime women's pro basketball team--with all due respect to the semipro St. Louis River Queens in the early 1990s and the current St. Louis Surge. Neither the WNBA nor the ABL have came St. Louis' way. Can't see the WNBA coming here in the near future as neither league had a team based in the state of Missouri in their existences. The city has since produced some women's basketball players like Kristen Folkl, Niele Ivey, and even Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...-louis-streak/
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Old 18-10-2013, 07:36 AM   #42
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Time now for another look at some of the defunct Canadian minor league pro basketball franchises with the help of a new book source that I saw on Google books, Canada's Other Game: From Naismith To Nash. All the stories are about, especially with the Canadian basketball teams are about shattered dreams, fly-by-night operations, false dawns, and broken promises that defined--and sparking the love-hate relationship between--Canadian pro basketball and the Canadian public's interest in it from the demise of the BAA's Toronto Huskies to the 1995 arrival of the NBA's Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. I will focus on a couple of them as an extension of the original NBL Canada post here.

For much of the 70s and onto a few years ago until the arrival of NBL Canada, Canada, as noted here on these boards was the only developed nation in basketball not have its own domestic professional basketball league while the NBA was in the ascendency. Even far-lesser basketball power nations like Albania, Cameroon, Luxembourg, Malta, and Mongolia already have them for years. Before NBL Canada, surely it wasn't for a lack of trying. Just that the infrastructure was terribly shaky before dying a publicly neglected death, leaving even stronger franchises no choice to pull the plug.

Canadian hoopheads longed for a major breakthrough in Canadian pro basketball following the deaths of the CBA's Alberta Dusters and Toronto Tornadoes earlier in the 1980s when the World Basketball League, renamed from the International Basketball Association moniker, hit the scene in 1988. That's already more than established here. And, yes, it lived up to the World in its name with featuring Canadian pro basketball franchises. That league aimed for the middle-level market, which partially explains why Toronto wasn't offifically part of this (was planned but currency issues also largely prevented that from happening). The Calgary 88s and the Vancouver Nighthawks were the charter Canadian teams that year for the 6'5" and under league. But this is not about them for now. Calgary will return soon. Vancouver will be discussed mostly on the Vancouver thread. The Saskatchewan Storm will come shortly, very likely next post here. I want to discuss here the Halifax Windjammers and the Hamilton Skyhawks, WBL refugees and later NBL members.

Calgary's and Saskatchewan's success on and off-course success in the WBL inspired a businessman from Fredericton, New Brunswick named Mike Doyle of bringing along minor league pro ball to the Maritimes, an area that developed an affinity to basketball with the CIS (then the CIAU) tournament for several years now. Doyle made his name as a Halifax Citadels exec and, by 1990, had yet to witness a basketball game in person. So he made the 8-hour car trip from Frederiction to Montreal to see an NBA preseason exhibition game at the legendary Montreal Forum between the Washington Bullets and the Philadelphia 76ERS (it was to be the last time NBA basketball hit Montreal until 2010) and get a feel of the popular extravaganza. 13,000 showed up in this hockey-mad city for an NBA novelty that saw a pre-game show with special assistance from a local sponsor with all the now-commonplace stuff like dance teams, "trick shooting wizards", and pyrotechnics as part of the entertainment. Doyle also observed that these normally ice hockey fans were going delirious upon every basket made.

Mike Doyle was convinced all this could work in Halifax, a city with some familiarity to him, and the WBL's blessing for an expansion team was granted onto Doyle for 1991-92. So that's how the Halifax Windjammers came to existence. The Nova Scotia capital was ready with the province's AUS schools being national CIAU powers and its capital hosting the national championship. The Windjammers' name was from the world-famous cargo ship that famously and frequently arrive and dock in Halifax during the 19th and 20th Centuries. In their brief time in Halifax, the Windjammers averaged comparable but better home attendance than the current NBL Canada (and longer-lasting) team the Rainmen. But the Rainmen play during the winter and spring and share the Halifax Metro Centre at this time with the Halifax Moosehead junior hockey team that gets bigger sports media coverage whereas the Windjammers had the summer dates almost all to themselves there. It later led the NBL and quickly became the standard bearer for it.

I first got familiar with Ron Foxcroft when I read a vintage FIBA Basketball Monthly article about the well-respected Canadian basketball referee turned successful and tireless businessman. Didn't pay much attention to it, 'cause who wouldn't like to read about refs. But I did know about his lucrative business of creating lispless ref whistles, known as the Fox 40 that became a national sponsor for Canada Basketball, and plans to operate the Hamilton Skyhawks. Winnipeg joined Hamilton in 1992 for what will become the WBL's final season, a season it didn't complete. Like many Canadian basketball afficianadoes, Foxcroft left for America for business opportunities and making a living. He's also remains the only Canadian to referee a NCAA tournament game and spent several decades calling games in the US and overseas. His biggest refeering thrill was refereeing the 1976 Montreal Olympics basketball gold-medal final between the United States and Yugoslavia. He got some money collected to purchase WBL expansion franchise like Winnipeg did with its under future Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz at a time when the Youngstown-based Phar-Mor pharmacy chain was on the up and up. Foxcroft called his baby that he founded the Hamilton Skyhawks.

League-wide sponsorship came from Phar-Mor and $150,000 from the Sportschannel America cable sports network. Local TV station CHCH broadcasted the Skyhawks games. Foxcroft signed a lease with Copps Coliseum, an NHL-ready arena that was created in the mid-80s (opened in 1987) for an NHL expansion team that never came. With no pro hockey to look forward to, sports fans in Canada's steel city took to the Skyhawks in droves as an alternative to the CFL's Tiger-Cats during the summer; the Hamilton community was ripe for pro hoops and Foxcroft to pick with the local basketball community being such a stronghold (and still is), strong high school hoops, and the success of McMaster men's and women's teams. Proximity towards Toronto also helped and got some fans from there in between the Tornadoes and the Raptors period still having basketball jones then.

Matches were televised twice a week for those couldn't head to Copps Coliseum. Monday night games were shown on CHCH, Hamilton's #1 TV station then with Saturday games on Sportschannel America. Everything was falling into place so well in the beginning. The Skyhawks' home opener there set a WBL-league record of 14,000 with very good averages of 7000 per home game. Foxcroft says the secret was selling basketball as part of the affordable wholesale entertainment on a night out on the town. Media in Hamilton placed the Skyhawks second place in the local sports pecking order that summer in coverage behind the Tiger-Cats. It was fabulous and the fans loved it.

But then the Phar-Mor/Mickey Monus scandal broke, bringing down the whole WBL with pharmacy cash dried up. On the day after the WBL collapsed, the prosperous Canadian teams, rather than keeling over and accepting its place in Canadian basketball history, vowed to keep playing and formed its own league led by Doyle's phone call to the other Canadian teams in plotting to create an unlikely and unprecedented all-Canadian national basketball league. Doyle convinced everyone but Foxcroft, who knew the important power TV holds in convincing fans that such a sports league exists and to a league's long-term survival and success (the Internet was in its infancy) after the Sportchannel America money equally dried up with Phar-Mor's. Especially with minor league basketball league's and teams being notoriously short-lived and haphazard. Doyle made a profit with money in the bank; he sold his Skyhawks to a group of local businessmen who were impressed with what he did as Hamilton joined the original Canadian NBL.

Partnership plans with the NBA serving as a farm development league went nowhere--players weren't likely to hone their skills in Canada, as later evidenced with free agents reluctant to come to Vancouver and Toronto. Nor was the NBA quite ready to have a developmental league quickly again after its CBA partnership ended. Besides, the CBA might have sued. This NBL had some surprising additions for its 1993 spring-summer schedule like Canada Basketball sending its national team to play after its disappointing Barcelona Olympic basketball qualification and the Atlantic 10 and Big East sending its all-star teams. Athletes in Action also was there to round out the field and count in the standings as the barnstorming top-level Christian team. Its owners were convinced that the NBL would carry on the momentum left by the WBL and nab a strong national TV and sponsorship deals.

To be continued...
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Old 29-10-2013, 10:39 AM   #43
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Louisville does indeed hold a great love for basketball with not just the Louisville Cardinals and even the Kentucky Wildcats but also D2 power Bellarmine and the beloved ABA team the Kentucky Colonels from 1967-76. You think a city that loves basketball like Louisville does would embrace any type of pro basketball not named NBA. Unfortunately, the Louisville Gardens lately became a graveyard for lower-tiered, short-lived minor pro basketball teams since the original Colonels' demise. It carries the corpses of two: the AABA's Kentucky Stallions and the Global Basketball Association's Louisville Shooters.

The Shooters' colo(u)rs were red and gold in their time there and had former Ole Miss and ABA star Johnny Neumann as head coach. The Shooters played through the GBA's debut season and nded with a record of 35-29 (.547) which put them in second place in the Western Division, 7 games behind the Mid-Michigan Great Lakers. The Shooters advanced to the playoffs but forfeited to the Mid-Michigan Great Lakers in the first round due to financial problems. Louisville's Alfredrick Hughes made the All-GBA Team. It also had former Louisville Cardinal Jerome Harmon on the team.

The Shooters began the 1992-1993 season in a decimated league down to 8 teams (sure sign of trouble) with three straight losses before disbanding in midseason (the only GBL team to fold during that season)--actually to fold after 3 games into the second season presaged by those financial issues. They had previously signed Sean Woods but the Shooters never returned to league play.

By the time the Colonels folded in 1976, Louisville managed to clamp its basketball market further, making it hard for the general public there to rally behind subsequent pro attempts. There was little media coverage and promotion regarding the Shooters. Guess there was general apathy surrounding them. Even the ABA reincarnation of the Kentucky Colonels went nowhere years later.
http://www.louisville.com/content/wo...rst-louisville
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisville_Shooters
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:26 PM   #44
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Already posted during the advent of NBL Canada on ABA Updates (And Now The PBL and NBL Canada) but pertinent for this thread. This is a very rare 1993 commercial promoting the Cape Breton Breakers, one of the original Canadian NBL teams, for a June 20th Father's Day home game against the Big East All-Stars at the Centre 2000 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Originally aired on ATV Nova Scotia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWAJkDTP1c0
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Old 19-11-2013, 10:19 AM   #45
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Well, I just did find a one notable player from the all-too-brief Jacksonville Stingrays. He formerly played at Florida St. before playing professionally in several nations overseas (Luxembourg, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Israel) and dabbled with the original Canadian NBL with the Halifax Windjammers and the CBA's Ft. Wayne Fury and Rockford Lightning. He's Nelson Jerome Fitchett. And the Stingrays' coach? Future Tall Blacks head coach and Jacksonville native Tab Baldwin.
http://www.protecttheedgenow.com/staff/fitch.html
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Old 27-11-2013, 04:12 AM   #46
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Outside of boxers Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Greg Richardson, Harry Arroyo, Kelly Pavlik, Jeff Lampkin, quarterback Bernie Kosar, pitcher Dave Dravecky, Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich, Bob Dove, several minor league baseball and football teams, and the Youngstown St. Penguins, Youngstown's sports scene is not as well-known nationally. Pro basketball made its mark starting with its most successful and its most controversial team with the Youngstown Pride in the WBL. Youngstown as a city has been hit hard economically for decades being high in the Rust Belt with the local steel mills shut down, a serious sign of the American deindustrialization, and the local population thus declining 60% since the 1970s. Residents became distrustful of outsiders plans and were frantic for redevelopment.

At a time when Youngstown started to get hit seriously hard with that in the 1980s, the Pride, partly nicknamed to restore civic dignity and community in a way a sports franchise could in the face of such ravaging local adversity, quickly became a model of great on-court success and an attendance leader in the WBL winning two WBL titles in 1989 and 1990, both times over the Calgary 88s, during the summer pro basketball circuit with players like stars Tim Legler and Mario Elie honing their pro game with the hope of making it and succeeding into NBA like both eventually did. In the early days, there was Clyde "The Glide" Vaughn, top players in the debut

But the Pride was also the center of immense controversy, the franchise was bankrolled by Mickey Monus, President of the rapidly-growing Youngstown-based Phar-Mor discount pharmacy chain. A "favo(u)rite son", Monus was able to backstep the financial slide of other (and more troubled) WBL franchises and Monus was even part of the ownership group for the 1991 then MLB expansion franchise based in Denver (that became the Colorado Rockies). But the following year, investigators spotted Monus embezzelling through an elaborative scheme funding his Pride and the WBL, siphoning off $10 million from Phar-Mor, that ultimately signalled the destruction of Phar-Mor, the Youngstown Pride, and the whole World Basketball League, whose investors unwittingly funded the criminal scheme. Its implications were undoubtably severe and downright embarassing to both Monus and the Youngstown community.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...ngstown-pride/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youngst...asketball_team)

Hopefully there's going to be a book about this misunderstood WBL in the works. Going to be an interesting read.
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Old 18-12-2013, 06:24 AM   #47
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Western Basketball Association came about when the ABA-NBA merger caused a significant amount of players from the ABA were left without basketball jobs, just like the All-American Basketball Alliance tried to do. It also supposed to be a more professional rival to the CBA and act as a AAA of minor league basketball, mostly at high school gyms if not arenas. For the most part, it was true with better quality of coaches and facilities, except for a couple of teams. One looming challenge was how spread out the franchises were out west (Washington, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California), so expensive air travel was a must. That could've spelled the demise of several teams.

After the 1978-79 season, there were plans for a merger with the CBA to become the more continental United Basketball Association and would certainly ease the travel burdens the CBA would endure as that eventually spread out to Hawaii, Alaska, Alberta, Montana following being mostly eastern based. But all of the WBA franchises died after the league's only season in the summer 1979, making the planned merger moot.

One such WBA team faced its own set of challenges was the Washington Lumberjacks, based in the Tri-Cities region (Kennewick, Pasco & Richland) in Washington State, where high school basketball is king before playing some games in Spokane at the new Spokane Coliseum (plans were afoot for the Lumberjacks to eventually move there if not an expansion team until the attendance proved poor). So marketing pro basketball in the Tri-Cities in the face of that was a challenge. Team had NBA and ABA talent in league MVP (and future Phoenix Sun) Jeff Cook, All-WBA First Team Walter Jordan, ABA-NBA vet Bird Averritt, and former Washington Huskies star and 5-year NBA player Louie Nelson.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...n-lumberjacks/
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:45 AM   #48
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Kicking in the new year from me--and my 10th anniversary here! --with a post about some defunct WBL franchises. From a league where guard play ruled and defense wasn't encouraged.

What a shame. The Youngstown Pride was a WBL darling until an investigation sprang up with the whole league bankrolled from Phar-Mor money. The Dayton Wings, also based in Ohio, was another successful WBL franchise since 1991 and won the WBL Championship Series over Calgary in its debut year, quickly becoming one of the league's best teams at 38-15! The Wings were a team operated by those who genuinely loved basketball like the late local grocery store magnate Milton Kantor and WBL stars Alfredrick Hughes and former Georgetown guard Perry McDonald. But the Dayton Wings got swallowed up with many other teams by the league's eventual sudden shutdown due to the embezzellment, while racing up to its best season at a 26-7 record. Dayton hadn't seen this calibre of basketball since.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2013...-dayton-wings/

Fun While It Lasted's look on the popular Atlantic Canadian minor basketball franchise the Halifax Windjammers, a team that set strong basketball attendance figures at the Halifax Metro Centre the Halifax Rainmen could only envy. Part of this could because of playing during the summer as opposed to when the Rainmen play since starting in the ABA and now in NBL Canada--winter to spring. Like the Rainmen, it and the other popular Canadian WBL teams (Hamilton Skyhawks and the Winnipeg Thunder) broke away in 1992 following the WBL's collapse to startup its own national basketball league...only to later die from that league's instability during its own mideseason, if anything. Halifax was another destination for Keith Smart's pro career.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2014...x-windjammers/

Not even Michael Jordan's NC AT&T-playing bro Larry could provide solvency to the Chcago Express. Even when Chicago produces great basketball depth to market. Perhaps Mike's incredible charisma and All-Galaxy gifts were way too overpowering in Chicagoland basketball to even give the Express some local love. Mike was even in attendance in the Express' debut game against the Youngstown Pride. But it was former Loyola-Chicago Ramblers star Alfredrick Hughes and Bradley's Jim Les who were the best Chicago Express talents. Tweener Hughes was a WBL star, playing his desired power forward position (undersized by NBA standards) and was dominant in the minor leagues. Former Northwestern coach Rich Falk coached them with assistant Walt Perrin later taking over following Falk's resignation. Attendance was solid at the start at the 5250 plateau against Youngstown with Hughes dominanting but quickly evaporated at the suburban Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) and couldn't generate adequate revenue, even with winning the first WBL title over Las Vegas in 1988. Late into its only season in Chicago, it went down to mid-Illinois for some home games in Springfield, where the Express was better appreciated and eventually moved to stay next season.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2014...icago-express/
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Old 01-03-2014, 05:47 AM   #49
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Fun While It Lasted acquires an old New Jersey Gems WBL program coming from Ann Meyers' second WBL game on Saturday November 24, 1979 against the Chicago Hustle. Meyers was still fresh from her historic Indiana Pacers tryout. And the game itself strongly defied those all-too-common assumptions about women's basketball being dull and slow. Alas, Ann Meyers' celebrity couldn't spike the New Jersey Gems home attendance. Definitely not in this game.
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/2014...hicago-hustle/
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Old 01-04-2014, 08:35 AM   #50
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NBL Canada's Halifax Rainmen paid tribute to the Halifax Windjammers in a March 2011 home game against the Saint John Mill Rats by wearing their jerseys when both were in their final (and ultimately frustrating) PBL season.
http://highlytouted.ca/2011/03/17/wi...rn-to-halifax/

Brief blurb from the Edmonton Sun-Journal from July 11, 1994 on the original Canadian NBL suspending operations. No official reason was given, according to its press release. At the time, the piece mentioned that only the Edmonton Skyhawks were in serious financial trouble (beg to differ on that: seems like Montreal and Cape Breton were very close to being in trouble too and the league had national no TV deal), although league overall attendance was under 1000 per game. League owners voted 3-1 with two abstensions and only Halifax Windjammers' co-owner Walter Newton voting against it.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=5150,1890891

WBL's Fresno Flames owner Ed Becker shutting down the franchise when he witnessed community disinterest and lack of willing partners to ease his $1 million financial burden back in 1988, the Flames' only season.
http://articles.latimes.com/1989-03-...5_1_operations
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