Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘EBA’ tag

February 14, 1963 – Camden Bullets vs. EPBL All-Stars

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Camden BulletsCamden Bullets vs. Eastern Professional Basketball League All-Stars
February 14, 1963
Convention Hall
Attendance: 2,000

Eastern Professional Basketball League Programs
8 Pages


Stellar vintage scorecard from the 1963 Eastern Professional Basketball League All-Star Game, played before a small crowd of around 2,000 in Camden, New Jersey on Valentine’s Night.  The exhibition pitted the host Camden Bullets (1961-1966) against an All-League squad from the other six clubs in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania bus league.

The Bullets boasted the best player in the Eastern League in former 10-time NBA All-Star Paul Arizin.  Arizin was Philly through and through, a native son of the city who played college ball at Villanova and then spent his entire NBA career with the Philadelphia Warriors.  When the Warriors left town for San Francisco in 1962, Arizin decided to retire from the NBA rather than move West with the franchise.  At the time of his retirement, Arizin was the 3rd highest scorer in NBA history, despite missing two full seasons in his prime to serve in Korea.

After the Warriors departed, Paul Arizin played three more seasons for the minor league Bullets before retiring from pr0 ball in 1965.  On this night in 1963, he led all scorers with 35 points and added 16 rebounds in Camden’s 122-114 victory over the All-Stars.  He would go onto win Eastern League MVP honors in 1963.  His Camden teammate Bobby McNeill, however, was the MVP of this game, with 32 points, 12 assists and 7 boards.

Paul Arizin was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978 and chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996.  He passed away in 2006 at age 78.



Written by andycrossley

December 8th, 2014 at 4:38 am

1961-1969 Trenton Colonials

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Eastern Professional Basketball League (1961-1969)

Born: 1961
Died: 1969 – The Colonials cease operations.

Arena: Trenton High School

Team Colors:

Owner: Marshal Fink


The Trenton Colonials were a minor league basketball team that played for eight seasons in the Eastern Professional Basketball League.  The EPBL was the highest level of pro basketball beneath the NBA and the fledgling American Basketball Association during the 1960’s.  Most of the clubs were clustered in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Deleware and Connecticut during the years the Colonials competed in the league.

The Colonials were usually also-rans in the Eastern League.  Their finest season came in 1963-64 when they advanced to the league championship series and lost in a two-game sweep to the Camden Bullets.

The Colonials folded following the 1968-69 campaign.  The city got a new Eastern League club in 1970 known as the Trenton Pat Pavers.  They last only two seasons before going out of business in 1972.


==Colonials Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
1965-66 12/5/1965  vs. Harrisburg Patriots ?? Program
1967-68 3/16/1968 @ Wilkes-Barre Barons ?? Program




Eastern Professional Basketball League Programs


Written by andycrossley

April 5th, 2014 at 5:06 pm

April 6, 1968 – Allentown Jets vs. Wilmington Blue Bombers

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Allentown Jets vs. Wilmington Blue Bombers
April 6, 1968
Louis E. Dieruff High School
Attendance: ?

Eastern Basketball Association Programs
32 pages


Deciding Game 3 of the 1968 Eastern Basketball Association (1946-1978) semi-final playoff series between the Allentown (PA) Jets and the Wilmington Blue Bombers from Delaware.   The Jets bested the Bombers 132-111 to advance to the championship series, where they would ultimately knock off the Wilkes-Barre (PA) Barons to win the 1968 league crown.

Although confined to high school gyms Pennsylvania and a few neighboring states, the EBA was the country’s top minor league, playing just one notch below the NBA and the fledgling American Basketball Association.  The EBA helped guys like Mike Riordan make it to the NBA.  Riordan spent the winter of 1967-68 in Allentown with the Jets as a rookie out of Providence College.  A few months later Riordan earned a roster spot with the New York Knicks and spent the next decade in the NBA, winning a championship with New York in 1970.

More often though, the EBA was a destination for players on their way down from the NBA.  Jets captain Andy Johnson, posed on the evening’s game program, was one such player.  Johnson had a strange career.  He was drafted into the Korean War after college at the University of Portland.  After the war, he spent some time with the Harlem Globetrotters before finally making it to the NBA with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1958.  He spent four seasons in the league, before being shipped off to the Philadelphia Tapers of the short-lived American Basketball League in 1962 on the eve of his fifth campaign.  After the ABL folded, Johnson never got another shot at the NBA and played out the remaining half dozen years of his pro career as a fan favorite in Allentown, earning $75 a night.

As the NBA’s fortunes surged in the late 1980’s, efforts were made to broaden the league’s pension system to take care of aging players from the league’s pioneer days.  The cut off for a pension was five seasons, which brought the tangled path of Andy Johnson’s career to the attention of New York Times writer George VecseyJohnson was a year short.  Military veterans who went directly to the NBA out of the service were apparently credited with time served towards their pension.  But because Johnson went first to the Globetrotters, his two years in the service were not counted.  Nor was the season he played in the American Basketball League after an odd transaction that Johnson characterized as a “loan” from the NBA’s Chicago Packers to the ABL’s Philadelphia Tapers.

Andy Johnson passed away in 2002.  His son Mark Johnson published a biography of his father entitled Basketball Slave: The Andy Johnson Story in 2010:





Written by andycrossley

November 1st, 2013 at 8:17 pm

1958-1981 Allentown Jets / Lehigh Valley Jets

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Eastern Basketball Association (1958-1978)
Continental Basketball Association (1978-1981)

Born: 1958 – The Wilmington Jets relocate to Allentown.
August 4, 1981 – The Jets cease operations.


Team Colors: Royal Blue & White



Long-time minor league basketball entry in the Eastern Professional Basketball League, later known as the Eastern Basketball Association.  The Allentown Jets were a minor league basketball powerhouse in the 1960’s and 1970’s, winning eight championships between 1962 and 1976.  During these years, the Jets had a special but informal relationship with the New York Knicks of the NBA.  The Knicks used the Jets as a training ground for prospects and high draft picks such as Tom Riker, Mike Riordan and Harthorne Wingo which helped fuel Allentown’s success in the Eastern league.

For most of the Jets’ history, the EPBL/EBA was a local bus league based in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and neighboring states.  In 1977, the EBA added an expansion team in Anchorage, Alaska (Allentown was actually their closest rival).  The following year, the league re-branded itself as the Continental Basketball Association and began to expand aggressively across the continent.  The lower-budget Pennsylvania teams gradually died off over the next few seasons.

The Jets changed their name to the Lehigh Valley Jets for their final two seasons in the winters of 1979-80 and 1980-81.  The club folded in 1981 after 23 seasons in the Lehigh Valley region.


 ==Allentown Jets Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1967-68 4/6/1968 vs. Wilmington Blue Bombers W 132-111 Program
1971-72 1/15/1972 vs. Trenton Pat Pavers ?? Program
1972-73 12/16/1972 vs. Hamilton Pat Pavers ?? Program Roster
1972-73 2/10/1973 vs. Hartford Capitols ?? Program
1972-73 2/24/1973 vs. Scranton Apollos ?? Program Roster
1978-79 11/12/1978 vs. Wilkes-Barre Barons ?? Program
1978-79 11/19/1978 @ Rochester Zeniths ?? Program Game Notes



1971 Sports Illustrated profile: “Toughing It Out Around The Purgatory League”

Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs




Written by andycrossley

April 26th, 2013 at 3:37 am

February 24, 1973 – Allentown Jets vs. Scranton Apollos


Allentown (PA) Jets vs. Scranton (PA) Apollos
February 24, 1973
Rockne Hall
Eastern Basketball Association Programs
28 pages

That’s former New York Knicks bonus baby Tom Riker on the cover of this 1973 program from the Allentown Jets (1958-1981) of the Eastern Basketball Association.  The Knicks selected Riker, a 6′ 10″ center out of the University of South Carolina, with the #8 overall selection in the 1972 NBA draft and signed him to a three-year, $100,000 per year contract.   The Knicks viewed Riker as the heir apparent to future Hall-of-Famer Willis Reed, but those plans went sideways quickly when Riker showed up to training camp overweight and slow during his rookie year.

In December 1972, with Riker bolted to the end of the bench, the Knicks farmed him out to the Allentown Jets of the EBA.  The Knicks had a special relationship with the Jets and the team’s General Manager Frank Wagner dating back to the 1960’s.  The Jets served as a sort of unofficial “triple-A” club for the Knicks and players such as Mike Riordan and Harthorne Wingo had cut their teeth in Allentown before moving up to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

The EBA more broadly was the third best league in America, after the NBA and the ABA, and players understood they were potentially one step away from the big-time, despite playing in dimly-lit, half-empty high school arenas in small Pennsylvania cities.  This 1971 Sports Illustrated profile gives a good idea of what life was like for EBA players in the early Seventies.  Teams played only one weekends, as players needed to hold down jobs during the week to make ends meet.  Players had to be active to get paid, and pay meant somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 to $100 per game.  A typical annual payroll for an EBA club in 1971 was $30,000.   Riker’s $100,000 salary, paid by the Knicks, was likely larger than the entire annual operating budget for the Jets.  The Jets errant 1st round pick was far and away the highest paid player in the league that winter of 1972-73.

A little over a year after this game was played at Allentown’s Rockne Hall, Riker was back in Manhattan, finishing out his second season on the Knicks bench.  The Associated Press ran a profile of Riker which revealed a player whose confidence had been totally shot.  Riker’s $100,000 annual contract made him virtually untradeable and, judging solely by his comments in the AP article, Riker himself seemed to doubt if he was cut out for the NBA at all.  Riker played out the final year of his contract with the Knicks in 1974-75 and this marked the end of his pro career.


Allentown Jets Roster as of 2/24/73

Scranton Apollos Roster as of 2/24/73


Written by andycrossley

January 23rd, 2013 at 6:28 pm