Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘International Basketball League’ Category

1999-2000 San Diego Stingrays

leave a comment

1999 San Diego Stingrays ProgramInternational Basketball League (1999-2000)

Born: 1999 – IBL founding franchise
Folded: 2000

Arena: San Diego Sports Arena

Team Colors:

Owner:

IBL Championships: None

 

The San Diego Stingrays were a One-Year Wonder in the short-lived International Basketball League. The Stingrays were the sixth pro basketball team to fail at the San Diego Sports Arena since the building opened in 1966. The ‘Rays followed the Rockets, Conquistadors, Sails, Clippers and Wildcards into the city’s roundball graveyard.

Smokey Gaines, an ex-Harlem Globetrotter and former head coach at San Diego State, signed on to coach the team. Things got off to an embarrassing start when the Stingrays couldn’t reach contract terms with their top player in training camp, Phoenix Thomas. The 6′ 8″ power forward averaged 25 points and 13 boards in exhibition play and then walked away from the team before the opener.

The team gained some attention by signing hip hop star Master P (Percy Miller) in November 1999. Miller, the rapper and impresario behind Snoop Dogg’s label at the time, No Limit Records, made cameo appearances in several NBA training camps and minor league clubs during the late ’90’s. Miller’s time with the ‘Rays was brief and he was gone by midseason.

The Stingrays drew an announced crowd of 9,762 to their home debut at the Arena on November 27, 1999. The ‘Rays defeated the Las Vegas Silver Bandits 102-100 in double overtime. The team never drew another crowd of that size and they didn’t win many more game either. Gaines was fired at midseason and replaced behind the bench with former NBA All-Star Jeff Malone. The Stingrays finished last in the IBL’s West Division with a 19-45 record for the 1999-00 season.

The IBL contracted from eight to six franchises for the league’s second season in 2000-01. The Stingrays were one of the two eliminated clubs.  The International Basketball League itself shut down in July 2001 after the conclusion of its second season.

 

Links

International Basketball League Media Guides

International Basketball League Programs

##

 

 

Written by Drew Crossley

November 19th, 2017 at 11:28 pm

1986-2006 Rockford Lightning

leave a comment

1989-90 Rockford Lightning ProgramContinental Basketball Association (1986-2006)
International Basketball League (2001)

Born: 1986 – The Baltimore Lightning relocate to Rockford, IL
Folded: 2006

Arena: Rockford MetroCentre (8,700)

Team Colors: Blue & Orange

Dance Team: The Lightning Flashes

Owners:

  • 1986-????: Jay Polian
  • 1993-1998: Wayne Timpe, et al.
  • 1998-1999: Wayne Timpe & Judy Timpe
  • 1999-2001: Isaiah Thomas
  • 2001-2004: Wayne Timpe & Judy Timple
  • 2004-2006: Judy Timpe

CBA Championships: None

 

The Rockford Lightning were a popular attraction in Illinois’ third-largest city from 1986 until 2006. The Lightning’s twenty-season run was unusually long by the standards of minor league basketball. The club played in the Continental Basketball Association championship series on four occasions but never managed to win a title.

Throughout most of the Lightning’s run in Rockford, the CBA served as the Official Development League of the NBA. Players went back and forth from Rockford to the NBA a few times a season, typically on 10-day contracts as injury replacements. Rockford’s greatest success story was small forward Bruce Bowen. Bowen played parts of two CBA seasons in Rockford between 1995 and 1997 before earning a spot and sticking with the Boston Celtics. Bowen went on to win three NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs and to earn eight NBA All-Defensive Team selections. The Spurs retired Bowen’s uniform number 12 in 2012.

The team nearly folded in 2001 following the disastrous intrusion of former NBA star Isaiah Thomas into CBA affairs.  Thomas purchased the entire league and all of its individually-owned franchises in August of 1999 for $10 million. Thomas destroyed the relationship with the NBA, spurning that league’s $11 million offer to buy the CBA outright in early 2000. The NBA then announced the formation of its own minor league (known commonly today as the “D-League”) and terminated its long-time developmental partnership with the CBA. When Thomas was offered the opportunity to coach the NBA’s Indiana Pacers in 2000, he was forced to divest his CBA holdings.  He placed the league into a blind trust, which ultimately starved the franchises of operating capital and forced the league into bankruptcy. The CBA folded midway through its 55th season on February 8, 2001.

Long-time Lightning owner Wayne Timpe swooped in to rescue the club after the CBA imploded. He re-acquired the franchise, reportedly for $1.00, and entered it into the rival International Basketball League to finish out the 2000-01 season. Timpe and a group of other former CBA owners then re-acquired the Continental Basketball Association’s name and marks from the bankruptcy court and re-launched the league in the fall of 2001.

The Lightning would go on to play another five seasons at Rockford’s MetroCentre. Wayne Timpe’s death from cancer in 2004 marked the beginning of the end for the franchise. Timpe’s widow Judy kept the Lightning going for two more seasons before announcing that the 2005-06 season would be its last.

 

Rockford Lightning Shop

Life On The Rim: A Year in the Continental Basketball Association by David Levine

 

Rockford Lightning Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Lightning owner Wayne Timpe died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January 2004 at the age of 62.

Ex-Chicago Bulls great, who served a brief tenure as the Lightning’s first head coach in 1986, died on February 26, 2009 at his home in Chicago. He was 61 years old. Chicago Tribune obituary.

 

Downloads

2-6-1987 Rockford Lightning vs. Wisconsin Flyers Game Notes.

 

Links

Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs

###

1989-2003 Grand Rapids Hoops / Grand Rapids Mackers

one comment

Grand Hoops Media GuideContinental Basketball Association (1989-2001)
International Basketball League (2001)
Continental Basketball Association (2001-2003)

Born: 1989
Died: 2003

Arenas:

Team Colors:

  • 1989-1990: Purple, Green, Orange & Black
  • 1994-1996: Maroon & Gold

Owners:

CBA Championships: None

 

The Grand Rapids Hoops were a durable minor league basketball operation that played 14 seasons in various buildings in and around the Western Michigan city.  The team was known as the Grand Rapids Mackers for a brief interlude (1994-1996) after ownership briefly passed into the hands of Scott and Mitch McNeal, founders of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament empire.  When the McNeals unloaded the team in 1996, new owner Bob Prsybysz quickly restored the “Hoops” identity.

The Hoops/Mackers played their first seven seasons in Welsh Auditorium, one of the smallest buildings in the Continental Basketball Association with seating for fewer than 4,000.  After moving into the brand new Van Andel Arena in 1996, the Hoops established themselves as one of the top draws in the CBA during the late 1990’s.  Neverthless, the team still lost considerable money each year, despite consistently ranking at or near the top of the CBA attendance leaderboard.

The Hoops’ fortune soured further in 1999 when former Detroit Pistons superstar Isiah Thomas worked a deal to purchase the Continental Basketball Association and its member franchises for $10 million. Despite Thomas’ lofty talk of massive expansion and new business development, the future Hall-of-Famer destroyed the 55-year old league in a matter of months.

Thomas rebuffed an offer from the National Basketball Association to purchased the CBA at a profit, believing he could extract a better deal. The CBA had longed served as the Official Developmental League of the NBA.  But Thomas had badly misread the situation and the NBA severed its developmental deal with the CBA and moved ahead with development of the National Basketball Development League.

Thomas soon grew bored with his failing investment and accepted an NBA head coaching job with the Indiana Pacers.  Thomas was forced to give up his CBA ownership  due to conflict of interest rules and placed the CBA into a blind trust on the eve of the 2000-01 season.  The move choked off crucial funding to the league-owned franchises. By February 2001, the league was broke. The league folded in mid-season on February 8, 2001.  Local investors purchased the Hoops back from the CBA for a token consideration and immediately entered the Hoops into the International Basketball League to finish out the 2000-01 winter season.  The IBL folded after the season as well, marking twice in sixth months that the Hoops league had now collapsed around the team.

A group of former CBA team owners who had sold out to Thomas in 1999 re-claimed their old teams following the implosion of the league in early 2001.  The group re-booted a new version of the CBA to launch in the winter of 2001-02.  The Hoops re-joined the CBA from the defunct IBL.  At this time, the team also moved out of the modern-but-expensive Van Andel Arena and out to the cheaper DeltaPlax in suburban Walker, Michigan. New owners Joel and Bruce Langlois also owned the DeltaPlex itself.

The re-booted CBA was a flop, having lost much of its identity and legitimacy with the loss of its NBA partnership.  The Hoops lasted two more seasons in the CBA before folding in 2003.  The CBA itself closed its doors for good in 2009.

During their 14-year history the Hoops never won a pro championship.  The team did make two Finals appearances, losing the CBA crown to the Omaha Racers in 1993 and to the Yakima Sun Kings in 2003.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Hoops coach Bruce Stewart (’91-’94) died of cancer of May 23, 2011 at age 57.

 

==Links==

Continental Basketball Associations Media Guides

Continental Basketball Associations Programs

###

 

 

1999-00 Baltimore BayRunners

one comment

International Basketball League (1999-2000)

Born: 1999 – IBL founding franchise
Folded :November 15, 2000

Arena: Baltimore Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: International Basketball League & Cal Ripken, Jr.

IBL Championships: None

 

The Baltimore BayRunners were one of eight founding franchises in the International Basketball League in the fall of 1999.   The IBL was a nationwide minor league, similar in nature to the rival Continental Basketball Association, with whom the IBL would merge after both leagues encountered financial problems in early 2001.  But by that time, the BayRunners franchise would already be out of business.

The IBL itself was headquartered in Baltimore, but the BayRunners were one of two franchises (along with the Las Vegas Silver Bandits) for whom the league could not find independent ownership.  In October 1999, Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. agreed to a 10% stake in the team.  The league owned the other 90%.

Former Detroit Pistons coach Herb Brown signed on to coach the team.  Notable players included former Louisville star and Golden State Warriors 1st round draft bust Clifford Rozier and NBA veteran and New York City playground legend Lloyd Daniels. Brown released Rozier just three games into the season due to poor attitude.  Brown himself was let go at midseason after the BayRunners lost 20 of their first 30 games.  Things only got worse after Brown’s departure and Baltimore finished the 1999-00 season with a league-worst 17-47 record.

Two native Baltimoreans played key roles on the team.  5′ 4″ point guard Shawnta Rogers, a product of Lake Clifton High School, was a rookie out of George Washington University, where he was the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.  Forward Rodney Elliott (Dunbar High, University of Maryland) averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 rebounds and was named the BayRunners team MVP.

Following the season, the IBL believed it had a handshake deal with Cal Ripken to purchase controlling interest in the team. The agreement required the league to secure additional investment partners.  The league was unable to do so and the deal collapsed, leading to the dissolution of the BayRunners in the fall of 2000, shortly before the IBL’s second and final season got underway.

The BayRunners averaged approximately 3,800 fans per game in 1999-00 according to rough estimates provided by the IBL to Sports Business Journal.

###

Thank you to Claude Jacques who sent in the image (above right) of the BayRunners pocket schedule.  You can browse Claude’s collection of pocket schedules at his website, www.suprfrog.com

 

Links

International Basketball League Media Guides

International Basketball League Programs

###

1999-2001 Las Vegas Silver Bandits

leave a comment

International Basketball League (1999-2001)

Born: 1999 – IBL founding franchise.
Died: March 13, 2001 – Bandits cease operations in mid-season.

Arena: The Thomas & Mack Center

Team Colors:

Owners:

  • 1999-March 2000: International Basketball League
  • March 2000 – March 2001: Jackie Robinson et al.

Another tombstone in the graveyard of sports start-ups that is Las Vegas, Nevada.  The Las Vegas Silver Bandits (shortened to simply the Bandits in year two) were a minor league basketball outfit in the new International Basketball League that debuted in November 1999.  The Bandits lasted just a year-and-a-half before collapsing in the middle of their second season.  The IBL itself followed a few months later.

The IBL sprung to life amidst a cluttered and rapidly shifting minor league basketball landscape.  The Continental Basketball Association, with roots dating back to 1946, held a coveted designation as the official developmental league of the NBA.  Former NBA superstar Isaiah Thomas purchased the entire CBA in August 1999 for approximately $10 million, with plans for rapid expansion and even closer ties to the NBA.  The Thomas acquisition, however, would soon become the death knell for the venerable CBA.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, a former ad agency exec named Joe Newman prepared the launch of the American Basketball Association, borrowing the name and the iconic red, white & blue ball of the 1960’s and 1970’s renegade league that launched the careers of Dr. J., George “The Ice Man” Gervin, and Moses Malone and forced a merger with the NBA in 1976.

Each of these leagues – the CBA, ABA and IBL – would face major struggles attracting fans and sponsors, while their reliance on nationwide air travel (among other costs) virtually assured that franchises would operate in the red.  Further rocking the boat, the NBA launched its own proprietary minor league – the National Basketball Developmental League – in eight Southeastern cities in 2001, which killed off the hopes of both the CBA and the IBL to secure NBA partnerships and subsidies.  By 2002, all three organizations had ceased operations, either temporarily or permanently.

The Silver Bandits debuted at the Thomas & Mack Center on November 26th, 1999, treating the reported crowd of 5,844 to a 116-92 demolition of the visiting San Diego Stingrays.  The club’s best player was J.R. Henderson, the former freshman star of UCLA’s 1995 NCAA championship team who also played one season for the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies.  Henderson would lead the IBL in scoring in 1999-00 with a 22.6 points per game average.  Midway through the season, the Silver Bandits added former UNLV star George Ackles, who started alongside Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon for Jerry Tarkanian’s dominant Runnin’ Rebels teams of the late 1980’s. Silver Bandits Head Coach Rolland Todd had a footnote in NBA history as the first Head Coach of the Portland Trail Blazers during their debut season in 1970-71.

The Silver Bandits finished the 1999-00 season with a 37-27 record.  Off the court, the Silver Bandits reported average attendance of 2,291 fans per game in the 9,600-seat Thomas & Mack Center, which ranked 6th in the eight-team IBL.

The club began the IBL’s inaugural season as a league-owned team. In March of 2000, a group of former UNLV basketball stars from the 1970’s, led by former NBA player Jackie Robinson, purchased the Silver Bandits franchise for an undisclosed sum.  For the IBL’s second season, Robinson’s group shortened the name of the team to simply “Bandits” replaced coach Rolland Todd with former NBA star Lionel Hollins.  Hollins had served as interim Head Coach of the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies for 60 games the previous winter.

The IBL headed into Year Two with only six franchises, after losing clubs in Baltimore and San Diego and failing to attract any expansion interest.  By this time, both the IBL and the CBA were in severe distress and exploring a merger.  IBL owners were forced to prop up the league’s New Mexico Slam franchise after its owner abandoned the club in mid-season.  The CBA was in even worse shape, thanks to Isaiah Thomas’ disastrous regime.  Out of cash, the entire CBA shutdown in early February 2001 after more than 50 winters of continuous operation.  The IBL immediately absorbed five clubs from the CBA, bolstering the league ranks from six to eleven franchises…temporarily.

On March 13th, 2001, the Bandits folded up shop in midseason.  Although the club had the second best record in the IBL at 20-11 at the time, attendance at the Thomas & Mack was a meager 1,944 per game during the 2000-01 season.  Owner Jackie Robinson cited a need for $900,000 to complete the final 45 days of the season and was forced to drop out when one of his partners declined to meet a six-figure capital call.  For its part, the IBL was not willing to bail out the Bandits, as it had the New Mexico Slam two weeks earlier, a decision which frustrated Robinson.

“We were trying to work with the league,” Robinson told The Las Vegas Review-Journal.  “They decided to help New Mexico, but they wouldn’t help us out for a couple of weeks.  I was completely shocked.  I don’t understand it.”

The rest of the IBL played on without the Bandits and limped through to the conclusion of the 2000-01 season.  The St. Louis Swarm won the second and final International Basketball League championship that spring and then the IBL folded quietly in July of 2001.

Upon the Bandits demise, The Review-Journal calculated that it was the eighteenth professional sports team to fold in Las Vegas in the previous twenty-five years and the fourth pro basketball club.

J.R. Henderson, the IBL’s leading scorer with the Silver Bandits in 1999-00, continues with a long and successful career playing in Japan.   So successful that in 2007, he became a naturalized citizen of Japan and formally changed his name to J.R. Sakuragi.

The Bandits final Head Coach, Lionel Hollins, is the Head Coach of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies at the time of this writing.

Former Bandits Director of Broadcasting Tim Neverett now handles radio and television play-by-play for the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball.

 

Links

International Basketball League Media Guides

##

 

 

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: