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Thread: Defunct Teams, Defunct Leagues

  1. #76
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    Meet Robert "Skip" Chernov, local rock promoter, scene maker, boxing closed-circuit regional ruler, downtown nightclub owner, and all-around hustler from Providence, Rhode Island. In the spring of 1977, Chernov dubiously attempted to buy either the Indiana Pacers or the New York Nets, the latter plagued with low attendance at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and bring them to Providence, something the Boston Celtics certainly wouldn't have liked because it infringed on their New England territory had it happened. But his basketball ownership dreams arrived in buying an expansion team in the EBA for Providence for a far cheaper price of $3000 called the Shooting Stars but later sold it for $250 to three owners before the start of the 1977-78 season a week later while on an alcoholic drinking binge, something that was part of his later admitted alcohol issues. Yet he soon after unsuccessfully sued them to get the Providence Shooting Stars back. As for the franchise, Providence "staggered along until April 1978 and finished their only campaign with a record of 9-19. The Shooting Stars were booted from the Eastern Basketball Association due to financial insolvency in July 1978" with seriously open talk from team president John C. Davis of ceasing the franchise dating from the first month of December.

    Saga gets better and even stranger involving Chernov: He later seriously sued the NBA in April 1980 upon acquiring the rights of the old, dreadful, and beleaguered Providence Steamrollers that the NBA deactivated from the BAA-NBL merger rolls from its late owner Louis Pieri in 1979, feeling he and the franchise were entitled for future NBA re-entry in the 1980-81 when the NBA already announced the Dallas Mavericks would get in instead. Chernov's stance stated that the 1949 motion by the NBAÂ’s board of directors to suspend the Steamrollers placed no restrictions on when the club could be re-activated. Furthermore, Chernov argued that he and his team should get the #1 overall pick in the June 1980 NBA Draft based on the Steamrollers last place finish in the 1948-49 season (Had he heard of the coin toss the NBA used back then? Not to mention possessing concrete NBA expansion plans for Providence?). A federal court judge in Providence tossed the case in June 1980. Chernov passed away in 2001:
    http://funwhileitlasted.net/2018/05/...hooting-stars/

    Curry Kilpatrick's February 12, 1979 Sports Illustrated piece on the Western Basketball Association, the ambitious 7-team league in the western part of the USA filling the minor league basketball void with the CBA (then recently just changed its name from the Eastern Basketball Association) and expanding the pro basketball players' options with overseas, not just Europe. The WBA acted, like a lot of minor pro basketball leagues before and since, as a station for hungry players (be they NBA draft busts and fringe players who are right there) and coaches alike hoping to either break into the NBA in getting noticed or get a second chance in it, this time more permanently, as they proved themselves with just a step away. Unlike the NBA at the time, the WBA employed the 3-point shot and line and the no foul out rule, which the NBA didn't adopt in the latter. For all its better pro experience and asthetics in comparison to the CBA, the WBA can out-bizarre the NBA's bizarreness at the time. Several WBA players got some NBA call-ups, but the WBA was also known to have players just quit in mid-game like when Utah's Bruces Seals did exactly that after arguing with coach, and former Utah Stars player, Bill Nemelka over playing time and told Seals to go home. Happened numerous times across the league.

    Some notable people who are WBA alums include Gerald Henderson, the late Bill Musselman, Randy Ayers, Cazzie Russell, Jeff Cook, Bucky Buckwalter, Brad Davis, Herb Brown (Larry's brother), Rex Hughes, Ted McClain, Sudden Sam Smith, Bill Kluckas, and Duck Brown. Country music legend Charley Pride used to be a co-owner of the Montana Sky:
    https://www.si.com/vault/1979/02/12/...ell-as-players
    https://www.si.com/vault/issue/70817/20/2 (layout version with photos from pages 16-21)

    Dealing specifically mixing the SLC-based Utah Prospectors, who came into existence to fill the pro basketball void left by the ABA's Utah Stars and even the Utah Rockies/Spirits of Utah's demise when it was feared the state not just SLC would never see pro basketball again, with the WBA as a league; the Utah Pros even courted those with Utah Stars ties to work and play for the Prospectors and used its colo(u)rs and played at the old Salt Palace. Supposedly a WBA All-Star Game was to be held in Salt Lake City with the Utah Pros hosting on January 18, 1979 but got cancelled due to financial issues. The Jazz's arrival from New Orleans later that year signaled the Prospecters' demise with the WBA actively looking to move them to Provo, Cheyenne, and Barstow when news came about a possible CBA-WBA merger with Utah out of this because of the Utah Jazz's presence and the Pros can't compete, but none of the other WBA teams could afford to make the financial commitment and thus folded:
    https://nbahoopsonline.com/History/L...ors/index.html
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  2. #77
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    This more eye-pleasing, seemingly Euro-style the NBA now plays can also be attributed to the World Basketball League now with that league firmly into the rearview mirror. Its notable regulation of restricting players to 6-5 and under certainly made for some entertaining on-court play in the long shadow of a more solvent and more recognizable professional basketball league that still had team coaches traditionally running their offenses mostly through big men being, though not always, the teams' leading scorers. And a plodding, ground-bound style at that. Some teams did indeed play uptempo and became more so as the 1980s were turning into the 1990s starting with the advent of Bird, Magic, and later Michael like when Don Nelson was being unconventional from the sidelines and something Phoenix Suns head honcho Jerry Colangelo admired up to when he was head of the NBA rules committee. And yes, the ABA must be recognized too for its fun style from 1967-1976. Anyway, thinking with a different mindset, the WBL played a more high-energy game we now see in the NBA that even has players playing multiple positions and are far taller in them in some than in the past (Giannis Antetokounmpo). Being under 6-5, players were encouraged to play more up-tempo, faster, wide open, and utilizing 3-point plays. It was ahead of its time.
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  3. #78
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    Time to talk about the pro ladies again! Back to the 1980s.

    Some rare broadcast footage of the short-lived Women's American Basketball Association in 1984, right on the heels of the tremendous success of the American women's Olympic gold medal performance that summer. This WABA game was billed as between two of the best women's pro basketball players at the time: "Machine Gun" Molly Bolin and her striking good looks going with her game from Iowa via Canada and Nancy "Lady Magic" Lieberman from NYC. Lieberman's teammate Paula McGee was one of two 1984 Olympians willing to participate. And it was one of the most anticipated games that was Molly's Columbus Minks and Nancy's Dallas Diamonds at the Ohio State Fairgrounds Coliseum, the home of several minor pro sports franchises in ice hockey (ECHL's Columbus Chill and IHL's Columbus Checkers, Golden Seals, and Owls), indoor soccer (NPSL's Columbus Invaders), men's pro basketball (CBA's Columbus Horizons), and arena football (AFL's Columbus Destroyers). Yes, Minks as in the same un-PC mink coats that animal rights activists despise. And mink foxes. Molly Bolin (now Kazmer) unearthed this video back in 2011 of the Minks at 5-2 squeaking out a thrilling win over the previously-undefeated 10-0 Diamonds 92-90 that was shown on the good old Tulsa-based Satelitte Programming Network that later became Tempo in 1985-86 and NBC bought to be morphed into CNBC in 1989. At least the WABA had a TV deal back then. At the end there's a Spalding basketball commercial with Larry Bird and Bolin:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBZ0fawTxo0

    Yet, like its earlier predecessor the WBL, the WABA suffered from dysfunction right from the get-go with all the usual woes inflicting sports leagues with severe disorganization and under-financing resulted in a "rickety" league predictably turning into a "disasterous" regular season experience. Couldn't get all owners on board to pony up cash from the start. Four teams originally planned to debut in the summer of 1984 from the original 9-team lineup either folded or moved locations from the April draft, forcing a fall season move and going with just 6 teams on a 22-game schedule. Attendance and team payroll was awful. 6-12 games were cut from the end of the regular season schedule. Columbus under Byrne tried to rekindle that WPBL spirit with head coach in NBA vet Larry Jones and star player Molly Bolin and fellow star Cheryl Mohr and setting up WABA league offices right in the Ohio capital city. But the pay and working conditions were so poor, Machine Gun Molly left for several weeks only to get convinced by WABA founder Bill Byrne to return. Columbus wasn't on-court disaster going 12-5 with all that going on. Off court, it was with the Atlanta Comets and the Virginia Waves and all later died with the rest of the league even with shouts to return bigger and better than ever in 1985:
    http://funwhileitlasted.net/2011/05/...olumbus-minks/
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  4. #79
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    An ultra-rare copy of the WABA's only season media guide from 1984 on Fun While It Lasted. In hindsight, it's shocking to see American Express as a league sponsor back then supplying marketing support in those markets unless the ties were connected to those at the WABA executive part. Portland-based AVIA was a sneaker sponsor with 90% of its player sporting their shoes. Schedule was originally set for 22 games (11 home, 11 away) from October 7-December 12 with an All-Star Game set on Christmas Day; 13 of those games were set to be nationally televised consecutively on Sunday nights at 6pm by the Tulsa-based Satellite Program Network (now CNBC via Tempo) like that Columbus Minks-Dallas Diamonds game on November 4, 1984. The Virginia Waves logo so much looks like it could be the Tulane University's Green Wave classic logo's sister. All of these logos from this league are so basic. Had it survived for next year, the WABA aimed at expanding westward with a west division filled by at least 4 teams with very likely teams in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and perhaps in the Pacific NW. Plus, Spalding's WABA basketball was 1" smaller in circumference and 2.5 ounces in weight, something that was conceived back in 1977 but the NCAA didn't officially use until 1984 for the women's game:
    https://app.box.com/s/8bbfada4ab98b05a99d9

    Another Shooting Stars minor league basketball team. Another short-lived existence but one that was slightly (but not much) better than Providence's. This one was from not long ago in the International Basketball League almost 20 years ago. Unlike Providence, which was a former NBA city, Trenton is more typically suited as a CBA city in a city filled with former NBA cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and San Diego. Once again, the IBL had players that were more like CBA players in terms of talent level with aspiring young hopefuls, journeymen in several leagues on their pro careers, and recent NBA cast-offs (usually those who rarely saw playing time or appeared during blowouts and deep reserves). It boasted better salaries than what the CBA offered and played in more advanced arenas with aims at towards aforementioned bigger cities back in the late 1990s-early 2000s.

    The Trenton Shooting Stars flopped brutally at the box office over two years when it was inevitably and constantly compared in direct competition as original co-tennant to the ECHL's Trenton Titans when both entered the scene together for business in October 1999, when the Sovereign Bank Arena opened at $53 million. The Titans had the nearby Philadelphia Flyers connections as an NHL affiliate, strong first season ticket sales, and a solid fan base of nearly 250,000. The Shooting Stars...instead endured NYC streetball legend Lloyd Daniels with his nomadic college and pro basketball career riddled by drugs and a near-fatal shooting (another minor league destination for him here), a large 7-2 Garth Joseph from the West Indies island of Dominica who ended up playing 4 games combined with Toronto and Denver in 2000-01 with stints in Greece, France, Egypt, Iran, and China before retiring having never materializing and improving his still-raw skills, attendance averaging below 1000 a game, and the late Herb Greenberg losing $3 million over two years before pulling the plug on the Shooting Stars before the IBL did for good. Trenton also boasted Kevin Mackey rebuilding himself as head coach, more notable back with the Cleveland St. Vikings head coach of the 1986 "run 'n stun" team that upset Bob Knight's Indiana Hoosiers in Syracuse during the first round leading to a Cinderella run up to the Sweet 16 before falling to David Robinson's Navy team in East Rutherford and later onto issues with cocaine and alcohol himself:
    http://funwhileitlasted.net/2018/07/...hooting-stars/
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  5. #80
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    Not many Canadian sports fans really noticed the NBL back in the 1990s when playing in the spring and summer and a "profitless" sole postseason. When the very successful Halifax Windjammers left the ailing WBL to help form the Canada-only NBL in 1993, they were owed C$65,000 from the league. But the original Canadian National Basketball League suffered league-wide in attendance from poor marketing. Halifax itself eventually got saddled with C$12,000 payable to that league's office like with all the other teams failing to come with the franchise fees despite being at first place in 1994. Thus, on the early hours of July 9, 1994, all six financially undercapitalized owners decided to pull the plug and didn't tell the league office until just before midnight later on.

    This blog piece on Halifax's recent failed sports franchises also notes that the Cape Breton Breakers, the 1993 regular season champs and also from Nova Scotia, couldn't afford to send all of its players home for postseason travel, forcing the entire series played in Saskatoon against the Storm. Foreshadowing what was to come for the NBL:
    https://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/goin...ent?oid=958114
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  6. #81
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    40 years ago on December 9, 1978, American and Canadian women's pro sports history was made on an afternoon with the first top-flight women's pro basketball game and league debuted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Milwaukee Arena/MECCA as the Milwaukee Does and the Chicago Hustle faced off with 7824 fans in attendance thanks to mailed invites focused on Milwaukee's professional class residents. It was the culmination of talk of creating a women's pro basketball league for the first time after a few false starts, the state of the feminist movement in the 1970s, and American success globally in the sport though still behind the Soviet Union. Sadly, that was one of the precious few highlights as the Does would never reached those numbers again. In case you figured out here, yes, the Does were named in conjunction with the Bucks--many years before the WNBA/NBA name synergy in its early days. The Does were chosen to host the first WBL game "because the team had a professional arena where both an NBA and NCAA championship had been played, and also because, as the Does general manager Gene DeLisle said, 'Milwaukee is a good basketball town.' "

    This piece looks back at that first game that the Hustle, a model WBL franchise that actually played two preseason matches, won 92-87 in a competitive game and beyond. Milwaukee's Joanie Smith made the league’s first basket on an assist from Brenda Dennis but was let down by poor free throw shooting. The Does, filled with young players at the time in their 20s, majority white, and hailed from several parts of the nation outside of Wisconsin (one from there got signed), actually were under their second coach with Candace Klinzing, until she got fired right after this first game, because the original choice fell ill and backed out. Thus began a quick revolving door succession of head coaches (including former Milwaukee Bucks coach for the first 8 seasons Larry Costello) that never got them into a groove from the mounting instability around them in its quick decline. You know these situations reading here: financial difficulties, low attendance and budget, lack of adequate national publicity and mainstream sports media coverage (no cable sports TV much less social media yet), thin player depth, teams folding, and non-existent paychecks. Things weren't as gender-equal or feminist-friendly back then in the 1970s even with talk of ERA and feminism going on like with the Does logo, the low quality of the lime and grape uniforms, teams enforcing antiquated "ladylike" codes of conduct (though in Milwaukee's culture heading to bars and drinking were welcomed as PR stunts) and men almost entirely operating the franchise. Timing was off. There was also n attempted Milwaukee-based women's basketball team in the short-lived WABA's Wisconsin Cheddars in 1984 in the aftermath of the USA's gold medal success in Los Angeles but that never got off the ground to play. After that women's basketball clearly since got time to develop and grow in leaps and bounds with greater participation over the years with talent and resilience, the social culture in and around it has changed...but still not perfect. Some of the former Does even stay close to give back to the game to build the groundwork for the future. The WBL as league was enshrined in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee June 5 in the trailblazing category:
    https://onmilwaukee.com/sports/artic...niversary.html

    When the WBL and the Minnesota Filles collapsed over Tonyus Chavers back in 1981, for all the missed paychecks and even dreamed of the WBL folding happen, she was so "heartbroken" and embittered over that she gave up basketball cold turkey. Never again. Even when she was coaching at the Boys and Girls Clubs, she refused to pick up a basketball. Only with persistent pleas from the late coach Kwame McDonald to join his team did she enjoy the sport again:
    http://spokesman-recorder.com/2018/0...e-never-again/
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 03-01-2019 at 11:03 AM.
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  7. #82
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    Newest Western Basketball Association franchise entry here comes from Fun While It Lasted in the Fresno Stars, a team like with the rest of the other WBA teams that closed up shop after one season in 1979 finishing 4th at 25-23. Two notable Stars players, 5-11 PG Del Beshore and PF Major Jones, managed to soon get on NBA roster spots, although Jones leveraged to a longer NBA career than Beshore. Future Portland Trail Blazer GM and 1991 Sporting News NBA Executive of the Year Bucky Buckwalter was Fresno's coach. We'll never know exactly what would've happened had the WBA survived despite some financial losses ($239,000 in the Fresno Stars' case) to merge with the CBA and form the United Basketball Association in 1979, except perhaps for travel costs would get reduced. Maybe pod travelling to develop regional rivalries--Utah Prospectors would never have survived with the Utah Jazz coming in from New Orleans. Flash forward 9 years from 1979, Fresno would taste minor league pro basketball again with the WBL's Fresno Flames, but, like the Stars, the Flames too lasted only one season. And never consistently again despite the ABA's Fresno Heatwave that since moved to Sacramento and died.

    Five years later sadly, Stars general manager Lex Connelly perished alongside his wife Shirley when their single-engine plane crashed in Oregon on April 5, 1984 at the age of 58:
    https://funwhileitlasted.net/2019/01...-fresno-stars/
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  8. #83
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    The WBL's Erie Waves get hono(u)red by the current Erie-based pro basketball team the G-League's Erie BayHawks for a February 22 game against the Canton Charge on the their first ever Hardwood Classics Night. The Waves had former KU star and 1988 national champion Scooter Barry and local Edinboro University standout, Billy Wade back in 1990:
    https://www.oursportscentral.com/ser...o.php?id=25103
    https://www.oursportscentral.com/ser...ight/n-5443702
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  9. #84
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    Another Erie Waves post here. Two nights away from the G-League's Erie BayHawks paying tribute to the WBL's Erie Waves and their 3-year existence in the summer basketball league. In a story originally published July 15, 2012 for the Erie Times-News, former players and coaches like Jim Les, Johnny Clark, Bill Kalbuagh, Scooter Barry, Greg Walcavich, Steve Hayes, and Erie-area players Billy Wade and Anthony Dickens. Delray Brooks, a former Indiana and Providence star, was the Erie Waves' first expansion draft pick. Wade went on to become Erie's best player, leading the team in eight statistical categories but was the source of, like with Vancouver Nighthawks' Andre Patterson before him, the subject of a height controversy in being over the WBL's famous 6-5 height limit. Yet like Patterson he passed it and was allowed to play. Wade later the next year got disgruntled in midseason over playing time and his teammates in a TV interview and was sent packing to the Halifax Windjammers. I think this team was doomed from the late start in establishing themselves with 67 days from the tip-off with little time to develop a local presence and allowing its first coach a philosophy. Consequently, the Wave panicked and GM Dave Kaplan seemingly undeservedly fired its first coach Hayes after a 4-11 start with Denny Hovanec, a UNLV assistant under Jerry Tarkanian. Hayes hoped for making a roster change would jump start their fortunes. Hovanec even made multiple roster moves including adding a couple of Latvian players to the Wave roster that didn't work on a squad that couldn't compete with the likes of Youngstown. Another consequence was finishing last at 12-32.

    Opened its first game in Youngstown, Ohio in May 1990 against the talent-stacked Youngstown Pride, a team starring Mario Elie, and lost 122-112. But how the champion Pride got them was controversial. Home opener was at the Tulio Arena on May 17, 1990 versus the Calgary 88s with 4500 showing up and packing it again the next home game thus leading to Wave averaging 2270 fans in 1990 with strong season ticket sales before both attendance and record both withering away. Calgary later swept them in a best-of-three series that year when every team made the playoffs. After Erie lost Game 2 by 30 points, Kalbaugh had to do a postgame radio interview because Hovanec wasnÂ’t available because the team van went missing for an hour that got used so Hovanec could fly back out to Las Vegas. Second season saw the Waves making some strides at a 18-33 record but wasn't enough to make the postseason that time under new GMs Anthony Peckich and Ray Hernan before him with Kalbaugh as coach, ending with a 126-110 win against Youngstown. Erie's third and final season in 1992 brought out its best ever start at 7-2 but also presented raising the height limit to 6-7 but more importantly an ever-noticeable league-wide problem: the WBL, as noted here several times, was hitting financial ruin with the league being unresponsive to mounting bills and not paying them. Definitely in the case of the American-based teams bleeding but not for the successful Canadian expansion ones. In a home game versus the Florida Jades, the Jades managed to get paid from league offices at the local bank but the Waves didn't. Needless to say, the Erie players got livid, and the situation wasn't getting better. Plans were afoot to play seven games in Pittsburgh but only two managed to played there. Erie was underfunded prior to a road trip to Dayton to face the Dayton Wings. Got there anyway but not with every Waves player in protest. Erie lost its final game 114-112 to Youngstown before its largest crowd of the year at 3650 to finish 12-26--and Kalbaugh knew it to his assistant Lowes Moore on July 19, the day prior the official shutdown announcement with 13 regular season games remaining. Spared them being stranded in Saskatoon while playing against the more vibrant Saskatchewan Storm that was scheduled two day later.

    Lots of WBL players would extend plying their basketball trade during the non-traditional May-August schedule coming over from the Continental Basketball Association and would earn salaries ranging from $18,000-30,000 that was comparable to what until recently the G-League paid in adding on to what they made in the CBA at the time. So it was substansial. Some WBL coaches made $100,000. But the pay spending and its ownership structure lead to its demise, believes Les. Wasn't very charitable to prospective and capable local ownership interests and sponsorship, especially in Erie. Ahead of its time like with other WBL franchises in presenting a fast-paced basketball style. A whole book should be written about this WBL:
    https://www.goerie.com/news/20190217...d-out-of-erie#

    If you're remembered more for your cheerleading/dance team, called the very catchy named ErieSistables being an all-time name for such as opposed to the franchise, something is very wrong. Erie Times-News has a photo of one of them in the above link. Of all the 50 games WBL teams played against the international teams in 1990, the Erie Waves has the dubious distinction of being the only team to lose to one of the international teams in what otherwise act as automatic wins, a pro basketball team from Italy that counted in the standings and never were subject to height restrictions. The Erie Times-News failed to mention two disgruntled Waves players actually left the franchise, retired, and formed their own club in the aforementioned Florida Jades based in Boca Raton, Florida. Did actually have some local ownership in car dealer George Turner, a former Youngstown Pride season tickets holder and was impressed with what he saw Attendance for the 1992 season at Tullio Arena (now the Erie Insurance Arena) averaged just 1,077 fans per game, compared to a league-wide announced average of 3194. Trouble came alight in late July 1992 right after the seemingly robust Phar-Mor opened its 300th store and company officials spotted Mickey Monus was ousted when company officials discovered Monus and his CFO were maintaining two sets of books, claiming rapid growth and profits while Phar-Mor was actually generating huge losses and falling far behind in payments to its suppliers that brought an end to the stores putting in bankruptcy and 17,000 employees. WBL players, coaches, and GMs then learned they were unwitting participants in a major criminal enterprise--and nearly sank the fledgling Colorado Rockies 1993 NL expansion franchise in Major League Baseball, in which Mickey Monus, the sugar daddy and exec where all the signs pointed toward to, was a major investor for the Denver-based sports team. Jaime Waller, a a 1987 2nd round New Jersey Nets draft pick, is another notable Waves player. Waller led the WBL in scoring in four consecutive seasons from 1988-1991. He began the 1991 season with the Nashville Stars and joined Erie midway through, finishing the season with a 26.3 points per game scoring average but couldn't get the Waves into postseason action. Later, Waller was dealt to premier team Youngstown Pride prior to the 1992 season:
    https://funwhileitlasted.net/2011/05...992-erie-wave/
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  10. #85
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    Just a brief post here because we're largely dealing with a very short-lived and doomed defunct pro basketball team in the following. Macon-based Georgia Titans were another doomed franchise out of the "comically under-financed" 8-team All-American Basketball Alliance. So brief the Titans lasted less than a month with 8 games played--kinda like the ABA's San Diego Sails and the Utah Stars in the last ABA season in 1976--with only one home game under its belt at the Macon Coliseum on January 16, 1978 with the other 7 games played on the road at a respectable 5-3 record when it and the league as a whole disappeared in early February 1978. Coached by former ABA Denver Rockets star Larry Cannon, the #5 overall pick in the 1969 NBA draft out of La Salle, and "nominally" owned by long-time Georgia Democratic state house representative (1974-2011) David Lucas, then in his late 20s, before heading into in the Georgia State Senate remaining there as of 2019. Sadly, Lucas’ 26-year old son, Al Lucas, later died of a spinal injury suffered in an Arena Football League game for the Los Angeles Avengers in April 2005:
    https://funwhileitlasted.net/2019/04...ns-basketball/
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    A brief 15-second circa 1992-93 commercial shown on Winnipeg's CKY 5 promoting the WBL's Winnipeg Thunder as a tie-in to CKY Viewers Club membership immediately followed by a 15-second CKY 5 News Update. Encouraging viewers to win Thunder home game tickets using a dart number. What's remarkable here is we see actual and rare Thunder action footage playing at home inside the since-demolished Winnipeg Arena along with the Thunder's cuddly polar bear mascot named Kaboom and a dance team and on the road perhaps at Calgary. Surely Thunder games were televised on CKY. CJOB handled the radio broadcasts. Interestingly, that court the Thunder used at the Winnipeg Arena--the one with the large Queen Elizabeth II portrait hanging high above the stands and court that you'll notice, was later used for that Naismith Cup Toronto-Vancouver preseason NBA battle back in expansionist 1995
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2ZFQXcO91s

    Sports Page 69, Section G, taken from the February 29, 1992 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press with two articles announcing the arrival of the Winnipeg Thunder ready to play later that late spring in the WBL created by businessman and future Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz who has ties to the entertainment industry through his company Showtime Productions Inc., which explained the accompanying razzle dazzle entertainment value. One brief one was on the introduction of its pedigreed head coach Tom Nissalke, who liked pro basketball's potential in Winnipeg and of the WBL as a whole and was willing to sell locally the sport of basketball. The other is a Scott Taylor column with him, a professed basketball fan who was pulling for Katz and Nissalke to succeed, wondering aloud why would Katz place a pro basketball franchise with a bunch of no-names in there in the face of Manitoba enduring a recession for people to plunk down C$16 a home game for some summer pro basketball at the "hot, dark" Winnipeg Arena possessing "worse sightlines for basketball than hockey" when the CFL's Blue Bombers are playing outdoors. Adds that Winnipeg's local hardcore basketball fan base are "notoriously cheap" and low in numbers (around 2000 at the time)--this was just before the incredible Winnipeg Wesmen women's basketball team's dynasty and its record 99-game winning streak doing its part in raising basketball's local profile. Among the fueling of Taylor's further skepticism for a city was Katz aiming for 2700 Thunder season ticket holders to break even. Yet Katz did some things right at the introductory press conference like the aforementioned CJOB 680 AM radio deal for 20+ games, a great logo with teal, black, and white colo(u)rs, top-line sponsors like Coca-Cola and Labatt's beer, a home schedule starting on Monday, May 11, 1992 with the defending WBL champions Dayton Wings, solid marketing, and better public and media embrace than the CSL's Winnipeg Fury (a team with no radio deal) ever had that led to its demise. Must say that Allan Leavell, a longtime former Houston Rockets player, Wally Bland, and J.J. Eubanks were the best known players on the Thunder:
    https://newspaperarchive.com/winnipe...-29-1992-p-70/

    Initially, the Winnipeg Thunder was a smashing success when sports fans were looking for something along with the long-established Blue Bombers. 4000 people turned up at the Winnipeg Arena May 10, 1992 for pre-opening tip-off Thunder pep rally, open practice, a fireworks show, and an appearance of "NBA calibre" mascot Kaboom that were all staged by Winnipeg hoops fans. Pep rally alone drew more fans than the ENTIRE Jacksonville Stingrays season home attendance before that woefully operated franchise collapsed mid-season on June 15, 1992 at a 5-14 record with the 9-10 Florida Jades. When the Dayton Wings came to town, over 16,000 filled the Winnipeg Arena making it a complete sellout. Winnipeg drew about 8-9000 fans a game that year despite a poor on-floor product and a summer schedule yet were exciting. But all of course was not well by that point in the WBL, though, because that opening night crowd outdrew the entire WBL combined, not per game but for the ENTIRE SEASON. Teams were moving weekly like Hamilton eventually did to Edmonton and folding altogether, yet the Thunder built an NBA atmosphere thanks to Katz's entertainment vision. That was despite the fact that the Thunder weren't very good at 15-22, something that could have changed because nearly every player in the league wanted to be traded to Winnipeg. Like with the Calgary 88s and the Halifax Windjammers, Winnipeg's newness garnered a big following until the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team, still going strong to this day, entered the sports landscape causing Thunder's attendance to dwindle. Logo was everywhere in the city. Until then, the Winnipeg Thunder were a big deal akin to the Manitoba Moose in the IHL/AHL later on in the 1990s (until the NHL's Winnipeg Jets 2.0's arrival from Atlanta in 2011) generating excitement, with the Winnipeg Arena filled with not just families and seniors but with plenty of young adults in the stands. But with Katz and company embarked with the Thunder with controlling interest as opposed what was regularly utilized, that league was going to fall off a cliff.

    Even with increasingly ramshackled WBL collapsing around the team, the Thunder still continued to pack the lower bowl of the Winnipeg Arena. That league surrounding the fitful Thunder finally folded following a four-team playoff in which the Thunder went the distance with the eventual champion Dayton Wings in a hard-fought five-game series. As a side note, all of the games were played in Winnipeg in front of huge crowds. For two more years (actually, one and a half) the Thunder struggled along in the even more ramshackled original Canadian NBL that never caught on and folded completely before the team and league, with Nissalke now as commissioner and Katz as president, finally threw in the towel for good on July 9, 1994. By the time they played in the NBL, its attendance reduced to 2000 a game when people would rather watch some exciting baseball. Not before Winnipeg finished 46-29 in 1993 and with the Saskatoon Slam defeating Winnipeg 2 games to 1 in the semifinals and the Thunder ending dead last at 10-15 before the crash. Its crash caused many Winnipeg sports fans to be wary of anything subsequent on-court basketball product in attempting to regain that excitement. Very well the CEBL, should Winnipeg get in, can emulate and surpass what the WBL's Thunder did in the next year:
    https://www.oursportscentral.com/ser...ipeg/n-2707492
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 16-09-2019 at 06:42 AM.
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  12. #87
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    When Harlem Globetrotters head honcho Abe Saperstein couldn't get the NBA enticed to an indigenous California-based team in LA because both the Minneapolis Lakers and the Philadelphia Warriors decided to move there in its own version of "manifest destiny" with the West, Saperstein created his own pro basketball league in the ABL in April 1960 with Saperstein doubling as both ABL Commissioner and Chicago Majors owner. The Globetrotters actually had some strong NBA ties. Pittsburgh was one of those former NBA cities (along with Chicago, another city the NBA was interested in but eventually returned too) that got one in the Pittsburgh Rens, partly in honor of the old Harlem Renaissance team and conjure up an image of rebirth in the city. At the time, Pittsburgh also actually attracted interest from the NBA for expansion back in 1960 because of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena being built--and got awarded as an expansion in both. But the NBA bid headed by AHL's Pittsburgh Hornets former owner and Ice Capades and the Duquesne Gardens Arena owner John Harris faltered after dropping out 24 hours of being awarded into the NBA and being embarassed over the idea not getting Bill Sharman as head coach never utilized. Had this became a reality, Pittsburgh's ABL entity would place instead stakes in Houston. Fight promoter Ray (aka Archie) Litman and his brothers Lenny and Eugene, along with insurance exec Sparky Adams, gained the ABL franchise and recruited former 1950s All-NBA Philadelphia Warriors center and coach Neil Johnston as the Rens head coach. Things started for the blue and white-clad team on November 5, 1961 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena against the Cleveland Pipers.

    It was the Pittsburgh Rens that started the late Connie Hawkins' pro basketball affair with cities beginning with P and with Pittsburgh specifically. A massive talent coming from the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at age 19, he was expelled from that very school in 1961 following some very dubious accusations involving him in the 1961 NCAA point shaving scandal and was never criminally charged with. This scandal tainted him as far as the NBA was concerned with then-Commissioner Walter Kennedy blocking him from playing despite no proof being involved with Iowa gamblers. He had no formidable league-wide competition while leading the league in scoring with 27.5 points per game, plus 13.3 boards, and took home ABL MVP honors. The Rens finished the 1961-62 season with a 41-40 record, 3rd best in the ABL. They lost a single-game series to the San Francisco Saints on March 29th, 1962, falling 107-103 in overtime in front of 3453 fans at the 12,000-seat Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Hawkins had 41 points and 18 rebounds in the loss (the next year the Saints, because of the impending Warriors move to SF, moved across the Bay to become the Oakland Oaks). Rens big man Quitman “Skeeter” Sullins, Charles Tyra, and Phil Rollins also played. In just over a year's short existence, Pittsburgh interestingly had two future Naismith Hall of Famers in Hawkins and Johnston. But the ABL league-wide started to collapse starting with the Cleveland Pipers and its owner George Steinbrenner dropping out with hopes of joining the NBA, something the ABL quickly attempted to block from joining with filing a lawsuit. The Litmann brothers lost $100,000 in its first season and abandoned the Renaissance during October 1961 training camp. So Saperstein persuaded New York Tapers owner Paul Cohen and another boxing promoter Bill Rosensohn. But it was Cohen who forked the cash to keep them afloat. However, all 6 surviving ABL teams were losing money and the ABL folded midway into the second season on December 31, 1962 with Pittsburgh finishing 12-10 at 3rd place. With nowhere else to play in, Hawkins since went on a stint with Saperstein's Harlem Globetrotters until the new ABA came around in 1967 with a new team based in Pittsburgh called the Pittsburgh Pipers while challenging the NBA by suing in court in 1966. He lead the Pipers to the city's first and only pro basketball title as the first ABA champions in 1968 never missing a beat from his Rens days. His NBA ban was lifted in 1969 and got to play with the Phoenix Suns as a 27-year old rookie and got better known for his dunking and finesse play:
    https://funwhileitlasted.net/2019/08...ttsburgh-rens/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsb...ns#cite_note-6
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  13. #88
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    Tom Nissalke, the only commissioner the original and short-lived Canadian National Basketball League ever had from 1993-94, died Thursday at the age of 87 in Salt Lake City. Nissalke is better known for being associated with the Utah Jazz as its first head coach after moving from New Orleans and years later as a radio analyst, a Cleveland Cavaliers head coach from 1983-85 and with Houston 1976-77 with a Coach of the Year Award in tow, a Milwaukee Bucks assistant under Larry Costello being with Kareem and The Big O, and with ABA teams the Dallas Chaparrals, San Antonio Spurs, and the Utah Stars. Because of how brief the NBL lasted, we're not going to get much info of his time in Canada online and his thoughts on the mess around him with the NBL.

    This obituary reflects on how briefly the NBL in Canada gets a mention. At least it's obviously known:
    https://www.sltrib.com/sports/2019/0...e-jazzs-first/
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  14. #89
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    More than about time the contributions of Leo Ferris in getting the BAA-NBL merger accomplished to form the NBA and make the NBA's logical years of existence actually around 70 years old! The NBL's records, along with that of the ABA's, must be officially and finally acknowledged including that of the NBL's lost Buffalo Bisons (now the Atlanta Hawks via Tri-Cities, Milwaukee, and St. Louis) and its equally lost legacy instead of an intended erasure from the NBA, who is confused about its birthday to control future generations. Even a former NBA historian thinks the NBA's position on the NBL is bogus. The NBL actually took steps in getting the first black pro players before the NBA like William"Pop" Gates:
    https://buffalonews.com/2019/08/02/h...ts-in-buffalo/
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  15. #90
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    As wildly popular as they were back in the early 1990s thank to the support and presence of local basketball in not just Halifax but the rest of Atlantic Canada, the Halifax Windjammers never tasted playoff action in the WBL and the original Canadian NBL because of different situations in its history dating back to 1991. But in two of those cases, both leagues folded. Guess what? the Windjammers actually DID play some postseason ball right after the WBL's demise in August 1992 in a short-lived league called the North American Basketball Association, whose existence of leagues that played at least a game has to be a record along with that of the Liberty Basketball Association. Actually, it lasted even longer than the LBA. Try over two weeks. The WBL's problems due to a league dispute (Dayton Wings), league not meeting its financial obligations to the remaining franchises, and concerns with teams not showing up to games until the last minute (due to players not being paid) and referees would boycott over lack of payment.

    The WBL actually considered scrapping the rest of the regular season that was falling apart and originally conclude on August 20, 1992 and go straight to the playoffs with Halifax atop in the league standings at the time starting August 22 with holding 2 3-team round robin tournaments beginning August 10 with the winners of each qualifying to the championship series scheduled to be played in Halifax and Winnipeg, the two most financially successful teams and Canadian (Winnipeg Thunder was not even partly owned at all by the WBL) based on final league standing records with both teams paying all expenses (hotels, meals, salaries, travel, etc.). WBL league officials weren’t interested in this and planned on continuing with the regular season which was scheduled to conclude on August 20, with playoffs starting August 22. But disregarded that and just folded. Final Windjammers WBL game was against Marathon Oil All-Stars in exhibition mode that replaced the previously-scheduled defunct Jacksonville Stingrays. The 5 Canadian WBL teams--Halifax, Winnipeg, Hamilton Skyhawks, Calgary 88s, and the Saskatchewan Storm--were going to finish play with each other and with Dayton under a revised schedule or in exhibition mode. Spoiler alert: many of these Canadian teams eventually did break away for creation of a new league as was considered in a August 4 press conference. Matchups were to be Dayton vs. Winnipeg and Calgary vs. Halifax with all games being held in Winnipeg and Halifax with the Wings being the first seed while their opponents acting as the#4 seed. Meanwhile, the 88’s and Windjammers finished second and third respectively in the other series. Strangely but seen likewise in the WNBA and NASL playoff rounds, the lower seeds were given home court advance for the entire series but this was based on finances, not on records. The NABA finals would also act as a best of five series with all games played in Winnipeg's Winnipeg Arena if they played Calgary or all games would be in Halifax's Scotiabank Metro Centre if the Windjammers had played the Wings. If the finals were Halifax vs. Winnipeg, the series wold be split between the two cities. Nothing was said about the possibility of a Dayton vs. Calgary final though. Hamilton and Saskatchewan, the other Canadian WBL teams, choose to sit out the playoffs with the hopes of joining an all-Canadian league in 1993, which did occur. The Youngstown Pride, who finished the WBL season in third place, chose to fold instead of continuing at 22-13.

    In the meantime, the four playoff teams committed a total of $100,000 to stage a tournament to determine a champion for the season. Since they didn’t own any trademarks of the WBL they opted to use another and different name--removing the WBL crests from their jerseys but not Calgary. As alluded to earlier, they went by the name North American Basketball Association for the playoffs. The teams would also added some investors to help out as the league owned 60% of the franchises when they were in the WBL. Calgary bested Halifax in their series that extended to 4 games, and Dayton won its series against Winnipeg. Yet both playoff series winners were homeless because of their WBL saga and even with the uncertainty of the NABA's survival in both Calgary's and Halifax's cases with no certainty for a championship. Attendance for NABA playoff games was disappointing falling short of the 6000+ goal teams needed to break even for the postseason. Winnipeg was thought to host the NABA Championship series but nothing was official on that--would be a definite had the Thunder advanced and faced Dayton with Sam Katz would fit the bill here regardless of outcome. And on August 18, the newly-formed NABA cancelled its own championship series with Calgary and Dayton leaving the Calgary players mad. Actually it was hoped that Dayton-Winnipeg series would just complete the NABA's existence. One of the 88’s owners offered the players $300 a game plus a $500 bonus had they won but they didn’t accept the championship offer. Also, after the Halifax series the surviving teams were down to seven players each, included one that was injured. It is unclear if that Dayton-Winnipeg series was ever actually finished in secret. I guess Milt Kantor's Dayton Wings would be the first basketball champs in two different leagues in the same season.

    Regarding the original Canadian NBL, the Cape Breton Breakers, under new ownership in 1994, was subjected to rumours in the weeks leading up to that league's demise of relocation to either Saint John, Moncton or Hull, Quebec in the midseason. A deal was done with Saint John in late June but it fell through and the team reminded in Sydney until folding with the rest of the league at 11-10 with the New Brunswick city having to wait until for another team that moved from Manchester, New Hampshire to finally taste pro basketball some 16 years later:
    https://maritimebaseball.wordpress.c...-the-playoffs/
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  16. #91
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    The World Basketball League ranks at #8 ahead of the World Football League, the XFL, and the ABA and the North American Soccer League (should've been higher at #11 and #14, respectively, in that these two given its importance and influence in the American pro sports scene development, although the ABA merged with the NBA with its 4 stronger teams. Ditto for the #2 WHA) in the top 15 pro sports leagues that flamed out spectacularly by Sportsbreak's Kean Doherty. Given the criminal scandal signaling the WBL's demise, the WBL itself should be higher in the rankings. More like #4-5. Certainly ahead of the WLAF/NFL Europe because many NFL owners at the time just weren't eager in continued investment to it:
    https://www.sportsbreak.com/sports/1...spectacularly/
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  17. #92
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    Fun While It Lasted's new Winnipeg Thunder entry. Not as detailed as how I do it certainly. But does detail the how the Thunder "played fitfully for parts of three summers at Winnipeg Arena in the early 1990’s" but dealt with the misfortune of competing in not one but two haphazard minor league pro basketball leagues that collapsed brutally on them before completing its seasons by going out of business midseason. Actually there was a third league in-between the Winnipeg Thunder joined right after the WBL that isn't mentioned here I just brought up--the ever so fleeting NABA, the North American Basketball Association. Also you get to see the Thunder's logo with the polar bear holding the WBL globe basketball in front of the triangle:
    https://funwhileitlasted.net/2019/09...nipeg-thunder/
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  18. #93
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    Based in Great Falls, Montana and lasted for only a year (1978-79) in the Western Basketball Association, the Montana Sky had Great Falls radio station owner Al Donohoe co-owning the Sky with African-American country music star Charley Pride. Donohue was one of the first station owners in the United States to play Pride’s records back in the 1960’s, and it's no mean thing that Donohoe’s KMON also carried the Sky's game broadcasts during that season. If only the Montana Sky fared better eventually staggering to a 14-54 last place finish on-court with an end-of-the-line Cazzie Russell and Brad Davis, who later got a call-up to Indiana but Montana never got compensation from the Pacers before becoming a Dallas Mavericks mainstay. Coach Bill Klucas was fired because he couldn't help their matters from the start at 3-17. Died with the rest of the 7-team financially-troubled WBA in the summer of 1979 by September as a mutually-agreed planned merger deal with the CBA to become the United Basketball Association collapsed. Davis himself, as noted on the CBA thread, incidentally later played in the CBA with the Anchorage Northern Knights, one of the strongest--and westernmost--franchises back then.

    Speaking of the Continental Basketball Association, Great Falls got another taste of pro basketball when the Montana Golden Nuggets and George Karl, in his head coaching debut, came to town in 1980 in the CBA. Many years later, the same CBA brought another short-lived team in the 2000s with the Great Falls Explorers
    https://funwhileitlasted.net/2019/10...9-montana-sky/

    A history of what might have been regarding the United Basketball Association merger that would serve as the feeder league for the NBA in fall of 1979. The WBA wanted Anchorage to join its league but thankfully didn't considering the league's condition. Plus its sole postseason endured some turmoil with Reno threatening to boycott Game 6 unless back pay was made. Some former WBA markets like Great Falls, Las Vegas, and Reno eventually found CBA teams:
    http://www.cbamuseum.com/the-united-...d-merger-1979/
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  19. #94
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    Brand new swag is available online from Calgary for those reminiscing about the short-lived but popular Calgary 88s called C of the Dead. Or those curious about them in a local sports time machine:
    https://www.660citynews.com/2019/11/...ith-c-of-dead/
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