World Basketball League (1990-1992)
Born: 1990 – WBL expansion franchise.
Died: August 1, 1992 – The WBL folds in midseason.
Arena: Saskatchewan Place (7,865)
Team Colors: Purple & Gold
Owners: World Basketball League & ?
The Saskatchewan Storm were a minor league basketball team that competed in the World Basketball League from 1990 until the league’s midseason demise in 1992. The WBL played an exciting, fast-breaking style of ball, thanks to a rule that limited eligibility to player 6′ 5″ and under (later raised to 6′ 7″ in the league’s final season.)
The WBL had a handful of clubs scattered thousands of miles apart across North America. The league was organized as a sort of modified single-entity structure, with a group of Youngstown, Ohio businessmen serving as general partners and owning 60% of most franchises. But the heart of the league was in Canada, where teams like the Storm, the Calgary 88’s and the Winnipeg Thunder drew strong crowds. Saskatchewan led the WBL in attendance in 1990 with an announced average of 4,193 fans per game.
During the Storm’s third season in 1992, the WBL began to experience severe distress. With the centralized general partnership structure, even those franchises with partial local ownership relied on the Ohio league office to fund a significant portion of local expenses. Suddenly the flow of money stopped. The league ran up six figure debts to the Canadian franchises. League founder and front man Mickey Monus was nowhere to be found. The WBL abruptly shuttered its two Florida franchises a few weeks into the season in June 1992. At the league All-Star Game in July, league officials handed a check for $48,000 to the host Hamilton Skyhawks. It bounced.
Eventually it came out that Mickey Monus funded the WBL for years with funds embezzled from the Youngstown-based Phar-Mor discount pharmacy chain. In addition, many of the WBL’s sponsors and advertisers were Phar-Mor suppliers whose arms were twisted to support Monus’ basketball hobby. With Monus on the run and about to be incarcerated, the WBL collapsed like the proverbial house of cards. The league folded in midseason on August 1, 1992. The night before, the Saskatchewan Storm were stranded in Dayton, Ohio when no one could come up with the money to fly them home from what turned out to be their final game.
The WBL’s relatively successful Canadian franchises banded together to start a new Canada-only league in 1993 called the National Basketball League. Saskatoon had a franchise in the NBL, but with new ownership and a new identity – the “Saskatoon Slam” – to distance themselves from the scorched earth left behind by the WBL. The NBL lasted a year-and-a-half before closing down midway through the 1994 season.
==Saskatchewan Storm Programs on Fun While It Lasted==
Saskatchewan Storm vs. Calgary 88’s at the Saddledome in Calgary. Summer 1991.
==Downloads & Links==