Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1990-2008 Yakima Sun Kings

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Yakima Sun Kings ProgramContinental Basketball Association (1990-2001, 2002-2008)

Born: May 1990 – The Topeka Sizzlers relocate to Yakima, WA.
Died: April 2008 – The Sun Kings cease operations.

Arena: Yakima SunDome

Team Colors:



The Yakima Sun Kings were a resilient minor league basketball outfit that plodded along for nearly two decades in Central Washington state.  The team won the championship of the Continental Basketball Association fives times: 1995, 2000, 2003, 2006 & 2007.

During the Sun Kings’ hey day in the mid-1990’s, the CBA was the Official Developmental League of the National Basketball Association and Yakima was a legitimate destination for former NBA draft picks and other fringe pros battling to make it back to the NBA, or to earn contracts in Europe or Asia.

Yakima Sun Kings ProgramPlaying in a small, low-income market with a limited corporate support base, the Sun Kings had several near-death experiences over the years and actually went out of business not once, but twice.  The first shut down was in February 2001 when NBA Hall-of-Famer Isaiah Thomas’ disastrous $9 million dollar buyout of the entire league ended in the league’s bankruptcy after 18 months of hubris and ineptitude.

After a season without pro basketball at the SunDome in the winter of 1991-92, local investors revived the Sun Kings in 2002.  By this time, though, the Continental Basketball Association itself was in existential crisis.  The NBA launched its own proprietary developmental league in 2001 – the NBA D-League.  The CBA was no longer essential to the NBA and no longer the beneficiary of a seven-figure annual subsidy from the senior league.

In 2005 the Yakama Indian Nation purchased the Sun Kings from the Uceny family for the fire sale price of $140,000.  During the final three years of the franchise’s existence, the Sun Kings were known as “Yakama” instead of “Yakima”, in tribute to the Indian Nation and its preferred spelling.

That figure was evidence of the CBA’s decrepitude and increasing irrelevance – fifteen years earlier, the original Sun Kings came to Washington from Topeka, Kansas in a $550,000 sale and in early 1992, minority investor and General Manager Brooks Ellison acquired an option to purchase the club from original owner Bob Wilson for $1 million.  Nevertheless, even at $140K, the purchase of a minor league basketball team caused dissension and recriminations within the leadership of the Yakama Nation.

After three seasons of red ink, the Nation pulled the plug on the Sun Kings once and for all in April 2008.



Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs


1974 Chicago Fire

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Chicago Fire Media GuideWorld Football League (1974)

Born: October 1973 – WFL founding franchise.
Died: January 1975 – The Fire ceases operations.

Stadium: Soldier Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Tom Origer


Chicago apartment developer Tom Origer was the first man to buy into the World Football League in October 1973, paying a reported $440,000 to acquire his Chicago Fire franchise.  It did not turn out to be a happy investment for the 41-year old builder.

The Fire featured a handful of names familiar to local football fans, including ex-Chicago Bears Virgil Carter (QB) and Jim Seymour (WR).  Rookie receiver James Scott was a breakout star.  After the demise of the WFL Scott would play seven seasons for the Bears from 1976 to 1983.  Another rookie – Chicago native Mark Kellar - was one of the league’s most productive running backs until a mid-season injury.

The Fire started out hot, winning seven of the first nine games in 1974.  The team was also a fairly popular draw, averaging 29,220 fans for 10 home dates at Soldier Field, despite competing for fans with the Bears during the WFL’s fall season.  But injuries and bad luck took their toll and the Fire lost their final 11 games to finish 7-13 in what would prove to be their only season.  Origer, fed up, forfeited the team’s final contest rather than travel to Pennsylvania to play the Philadelphia Bell on November 13, 1974.

The team muddled along in semi-existence until January 1975, when Origer laid off the Fire’s final few staff members and closed up shop.  The World Football League quickly put a new team into Chicago – the Chicago Winds – for the 1975 season.  But the Winds went belly up after only 5 games in 1975, and the league itself closed down on October 22, 1975 without managing to complete its second campaign.


==Chicago Fire Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
8/29/1974 vs. Birmingham Americans  L 22-8 Program
9/2/1974 @ Southern California Sun W 32-22 Program
9/7/1974 @ Birmingham Americans L 41-40 Program
9/18/1974 vs. Memphis Southmen L 25-7 Program


==Key Players==

  • Virgil Carter
  • James Scott
  • Jim Seymour



Footage from the July 17, 1974 Chicago Fire at Jacksonville Sharks WFL game from the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.




July 1974 Chicago Fire “Line of Fire” Newsletter



World Football League Media Guides

World Football League Programs


Written by andycrossley

October 22nd, 2014 at 1:54 am

1961-1962 San Francisco Saints

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Gene Brown San Francisco SaintsAmerican Basketball League (1961-1962)

Born: 1961 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: 1962 – The Saints relocate to Oakland, CA.


Team Colors:

Owner: George McKeon


The San Francisco Saints were a One-Year Wonder in Abe Saperstein’s upstart American Basketball League that briefly attempted to challenge the NBA in the early 1960’s.

The Saints finished 38-38 in their only season of play and lost to the eventual champion Cleveland Pipers (owned by George Steinbrenner!) in the playoff quarterfinal.  6′ 8″ center Jim Francis out of Dartmouth was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 19.1 PPG.

In July 1962, owner George McKeon announced that the Saints would not return to the league.  The franchise was relocated across the Bay to Oakland as the Oakland Oaks for the 1962-63 season.  The ABL’s sophomore campaign was cut short due to financial difficulties and the league folded on December 31, 1962.


==1961-62 San Francisco Saints Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
11/1/1961 vs. Kansas City Steers W 100-88 Program
11/3/1961 vs. Kansas City Steers L 83-77 Program
11/9/1961 vs. Cleveland Pipers L 103-100 Program
11/10/1961 vs. Cleveland Pipers L 97-88 Program
11/17/1961 @ Chicago Majors L 94-91 (OT) Program
2/20/1962 vs. Chicago Majors W 119-116 Program
2/22/1962 vs. Chicago Majors L 118-102 Program



American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs


Written by andycrossley

October 20th, 2014 at 2:05 pm

1968-1970 Los Angeles Stars

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Los Angeles Stars vs. Dallas Chaparalls. January 7, 1970American Basketball Association (1968-1970)

Born: 1968 – The Anaheim Amigos relocate to Los Angeles, CA.
Died: June 11, 1970 – The Stars relocate to Salt Lake City, UT.

Arena: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Jim Kirst


The Los Angeles Stars basketball team was a short-lived effort by the American Basketball Association to plant its flag in L.A. during the early years of its rivalry with the National Basketball Association.  The Stars labored in the shadows of the NBA’s Lakers and never established a substantial following.

1968-69 Los Angeles Stars Media GuideThe Stars, coached by Hall-of-Famer (and future Lakers coach) Bill Sharman, did enjoy a thrilling Cinderella playoff run at the end of its second and final season in L.A.  As late as March 1970, the Stars sat in last place in the ABA’s Western Division.  But Sharman’s club had talent, sparked by guard Mack Calvin and fellow rookie Willie Wise at small forward.  A late season surge saw the Stars grab the final Western Division playoff spot with a 43-31 fourth place finish.  The Stars then upended the Dallas Chaparrals and the  top-seeded Denver Rockets to earn a trip to the ABA Championship Series against the Indiana Pacers.  The Pacers, a league-best 59-25 in the  regular season, ended the Stars’ unlikely run with a 4-2 series victory.

The 6th and deciding game of the 1970 ABA Championship Series was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on May 25, 1970.  The Pacers won 111-107 before 8,233 fans – the largest crowd in Stars franchise history.  It was also the last crowd in the team’s brief existence in Southern California.  By this time, the Stars departure was already in the works.  Owner Jim Kirst sold the troubled club to Denver-based cable television entrepreneur Bill Daniels in March of 1970.  Two weeks following the Game 6 loss in the finals, Daniels announced the club would move to Salt Lake City for the 1970-71 ABA season.

Daniels’ Utah Stars became a league powerhouse during the early 1970’s, appearing in three more ABA finals series, and winning the championship in 1971.  The franchise folded in December 1975 and the ABA closed down the following spring.


==Los Angeles Stars Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
1969-70 1/7/1970 vs. Dallas Chaparrals L 114-112 Program
1969-70 3/4/1970 vs. Denver Rockets W 135-122 Program
1969-70 4/14/1970 @ Dallas Chaparrals  L 129-113 Program


==In Memoriam==

Forward Wayne Hightower (Stars ’69-’70) died of a heart attack on April 18, 2002. He was 62.  New York Times obituary.

Former Stars Head Coach Bill Sharman passed away at age 87 on October 25, 2013.



Los Angeles Stars on

American Basketball Association Media Guides

American Basketball Association Programs


Written by andycrossley

October 20th, 2014 at 2:42 am

1983-1984 Philadelphia Stars

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Philadelphia Stars USFLUnited States Football League (1983-1984)

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise.
Died: October 1984 – The Stars relocate to Baltimore, MD.


Team Colors:

Owner: Myles Tannenbaum




==Philadelphia Stars Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
3/6/1983 @ Denver Gold W 13-7 Program Video
4/16/1983 @ Oakland Invaders W 17-7 Program
5/29/1983 @ Boston Breakers  L 21-17 Video
7/9/1983 vs. Chicago Blitz W 44-38 (OT) Program Video
7/17/1983 Michigan Panthers L 24-22 Program Video
4/15/1984 vs. Chicago Blitz W 41-7 Program
5/13/1984 vs. Los Angeles Express W 18-14 Video
6/30/1984 vs. New Jersey Generals W 28-7 Video
7/7/1984 vs. Birmingham Stallions W 20-10 Program
7/15/1985 Arizona Wranglers W 23-3 Program Video


==Key Players==



1983 USFL Championship Game on ABC Sports.  Michigan Panthers vs. Philadelphia Stars at Denver, Co. July 17, 1983…

1984 Inside The USFL feature on the Stars’ remarkable track record…

==In Memoriam==

Former Stars linebacker Sam Mills passed away April 18, 2005 at age 45 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Stars founder and owner Myles Tannenbaum died on August 31, 2012 at the age of 82 years old.



United States Football League Media Guides

United States Football League Programs