Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Midseason Meltdowns’ tag

1975-1976 Beauce Jaros

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North American Hockey League (1975-1976)

Born: 1975
Died:
December 22, 1976 – The Jaros fold in midseason.

Arena: Palais Des Sports

Team Colors:

Owner: Andre Veilleux

 

The Beauce Jaros were a Quebec-based franchise in the North American Hockey League, the mid-1970′s minor league hockey loop that inspired the Paul Newman hockey comedy Slap Shot.  The Jaros played at the tiny Palais Des Sports in the small city of Saint-Georges.

The Jaros player-coach was Jocelyn Hardy, who had a journeyman career in both the NHL and the World Hockey Association during the early 1970′s.  Hardy was never a prolific scorer – his career high was 28 goals with New Haven of the Eastern League back in the 1966-67 season.  But he went wild in Beauce, scoring 60 goals and adding a ridiculous 148 assists in 72 games during the 1975-76 season.  Hardy won the NAHL’s MVP award that year and became the first pro hockey player to score 200 points in a season, six years before Wayne Gretzky accomplished the feat in the NHL.

The 1975-76 Jaros were a juggernaut, featuring four players who scored more than 60 goals.  Hardy (208 pts.), Richard Grenier (160 pts.), Luc Simard (149 pts.) and Alain Caron (137 pts.) were the top four scorers in the league.  Beauce had the best record in the league at 54-18-2 but were upset in the Lockhart Cup championship series by the Philadelphia Firebirds in six games.

The following year was a different story. Grenier, Simard and Caron departed.  Through 30 games, the Jaros were the worst team in the league at 6-22-2.  Attendance was poor in Saint-Georges and by December 1976 Beauce owner Andre Veilleux had lost a reported $300,000 on the team.  On December 22, 1976 the Jaros failed to show upand forfeited a home game against the Mohawk Valley Comets.  Veilleux announced the same night that he was folding his club.

The NAHL itself folded in September 1977.

 

==Links==

North American Hockey League Media Guides

North American Hockey League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 19th, 2014 at 12:23 am

1996-1998 Colorado Xplosion

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American Basketball League (1996-1998)

Born: February 7, 1996 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: December 22, 1998 – The ABL ceases operations in mid-season.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Black, Blue & Yellow

Owner: American Basketball League

 

The Colorado Xplosion were the Denver franchise in the women’s American Basketball League, which lasted for two-and-a-half seasons from 1996 to 1998.  After the 1996 Olympics, two rival women’s leagues sprung up.  The bootstrap ABL launched first, played in the winter time, offered the best pay, and initially signed many of the best Olympic-caliber women’s players.  The NBA-backed Women’s National Basketball Association had David Stern’s marketing machine behind it, richer owners and better television and media deals.  In less than three years, the WNBA and the generally challenging marketplace for women’s pro sports drove the ABL to bankruptcy in December 1998.

But it was fun while it lasted.  The Xplosion were a pretty strong club.  In the ABL’s inaugural season, they had the second best record in the regular season at 25-15, but were bounced in the first round of the playoff by the Richmond Rage.  During their second season, the Xplosion regressed a bit, barely making the playoffs at 21-23.  Once again, they lost in the first round, this time to the Long Beach Stingrays.  Season three saw the Xplosion off to slow start and in last place in their division at 5-8 when the ABL abruptly shut down on December 22, 1998, having run out of money to continue operations.

Top players included two-time ABL All-Stars Debbie Black and Crystal Robinson.  Black, although the shortest player in the league at 5′ 3″, was a tenacious rebounder, who ranked among the league’s top 15 total rebounders during the first two seasons.  She also was the ABL’s all-time steals leader and ranked third in assists for the two full seasons the league completed. Robinson led the Xplosion in scoring both seasons was among the league’s top three-point threats.

The Xplosion player who got the most national media attention was 6′ 5″ Sylvia Crawley, who executed a blindfolded dunk at the 1998 ABL All-Star Game to win what was billed as the first ever slam dunk contest for women.

The Xplosion split their home games between McNichols Arena and the smaller Denver Coliseum in each of their season.  Attendance was pretty consistent through the team’s brief run, holding a steady average of just under 4,000 per game.  A February 1st, 1998 game at McNichols against the New England Blizzard set the club’s all-time mark with 13,489 fans on hand.

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

February 9th, 2014 at 3:57 pm

2013 Baltimore Bombers

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North American Lacrosse League (2013)

Born: August 2012 - NALL expansion franchise.
Died: March 8, 2013 – The Bombers cease operations in midseason.

Arena: Du Burns Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Hunter Francis

 

The Baltimore Bombers were a doomed entry in the low-rent North American Lacrosse League (2012-2013), which briefly existed as a destination of last resort for box lacrosse players looking for winter-time employment outside of the big-budget National Lacrosse League.  Its unlikely that many Baltimore residents were aware of the Bombers, who existed for only two months at tiny Du Burns Arena, a 650-seat venue that also hosted a women’s roller derby team and meetings of a local Christian Church.

The Bombers lasted only seven games in the NALL, a four-team league which also featured teams in Kentucky, Rhode Island and suburban Boston.  The league fell apart pretty quickly and the Bombers shut down after playing only seven games, folding with a 4-3 record on March 8, 2013.  The NALL itself folded later that spring.

 

==YouTube==

Bombers vs. Rhode Island Kingfish at Du Burns Arena, winter 2013.

 

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Written by andycrossley

January 21st, 2014 at 3:22 am

1961-1962 Los Angeles Jets

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American Basketball League (1961-1962)

Born: 1960 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: January 18, 1962 – The Jets cease operations in midseason.

Arena: Olympic Auditorium

Team Colors:

Owners: Vito Guarino & Len Corbosiero

 

The Los Angeles Jets were one of six original franchises in Abe Saperstein’s American Basketball League, which planned to debut in the fall of 1960 and take on the National Basketball Association for bragging rights as the country’s premier pro basketball circuit.  Saperstein was the founder and promoter of the Harlem Globetrotter’s.  His Los Angeles investors were Vito Guarino and his stepson Len Corbosiero.

Guarino promoted the first NBA game in Los Angeles, a 1959 exhibition game between the Philadelphia Warriors and the St. Louis Hawks which also happened to be Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA debut.  But Guarino’s dream of securing an NBA franchise for L.A. was dashed when Minneapolis Lakers owner Bob Short gained approval to move his franchise to the city in the fall of 1960.  Guarino ended up with the Jets franchise in Saperstein’s new league instead, but found himself shut out of L.A.’s new Memorial Sports Arena by the transplanted Lakers.  The Jets considered a move to Long Beach for the 1960-61 season, but instead the ABL decided to postpone its debut for a year as other cities also struggled to secure arena agreements..

When the ABL finally tipped off in the autumn of 1961, the Jets were still in Los Angeles and struck a deal to play at the city’s Grand Olympic Auditorium on Grand Avenue.   The Jets’ big name was player-coach Bill Sharman, the perennial All-Star guard for the Boston Celtics who left the NBA because he did not want to be exposed to the league’s expansion draft.  Celtics owner Walter Brown vowed to prevent Sharman from playing for the ABL, but Sharman defied the Celtics’ intimidation and Brown gave up his crusade in November 1961.

But Sharman’s reprieve in L.A. didn’t last long.  The Jets made their home debut on November 6, 1961 against the San Francisco Saints.  In a bad omen, only 1,634 souls showed up at Olympic Auditorium to witness a close contest (won by the Saints 116-113) which also included a first half brawl sparked by NBA veterans George Yardley of the Jets and Whitey Bell of the Saints.

The ABL split its 1961-62 season into two halves.  The Jets played their final game of the first half on January 10, 1962, defeating the Hawaii Chiefs 123-122 in San Francisco to run their record to 24-15.  But despite the winning record, the Jets were out of money or hope (or both) and elected not to continue with the season’s second half.  They became the first ABL franchise to fold on January 17, 1962.  At the time, the league claimed the team was just taking the rest of the season off to re-organize and would likely re-appear in Long Beach for the 1962-62.  The ABL would have a team in Long Beach the following autumn, but it would be the relocated the Hawaii Chiefs rather than the Jets, who were never heard from again.

The ABL itself folded midway through its second season on December 31, 1962.  The role of chief antagonist and rival to the National Basketball Association would fall to the far more successful American Basketball Association, which launched five years later in 1967 and ultimately forced a partial merger in 1976.

Bill Sharman would later championships as a coach in both the American Basketball Association and the NBA.  He would enter the Basketball Hall of Fame twice, enshrined as both a player (1976) and a coach (2004).

 

==In Memoriam==

Jets owner Vito Guarino died on July 24, 1991 at age 77.

Jets player and NBA veteran George Yardley passed away at age 75 on August 12, 2004.

Jets player-coach Bill Sharman passed away October 25, 2013.  He was 87 years old.

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Programs

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1991-1994 Halifax Windjammers

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World Basketball League (1991-1992)
National Basketball League (1993-1994)

Born: 1991 – WBL expansion franchise.
Died: July 9, 1994 – The NBL ceases operations in mid-season.

Arena: Halifax Metro Centre (9,851)

Team Colors: Blue & Gold

Owner:

 

The Halifax Windjammers were a popular minor league basketball franchise that played parts of four seasons in two different leagues at the Halifax Metro Centre.

The Windjammers started out as a 1991 expansion entry in the World Basketball League, a high-scoring circuit that restricted rosters to players 6′ 5″ tall and under.  Halifax’s WBL opponents included three Canadians teams – the Calgary 88′s, Hamilton Skyhawks, Saskatchewan Storm and Winnipeg Thunder - as well as team scattered across the United States and foreign clubs imported from Europe.

Attendance was strong in Halifax, especially by the standards of the struggling WBL.  The Windjammers were tabbed to host the league All-Star Game during their expansion season.  Heading into the All-Star break, Halifax led the league with average attendance of 5,601 per game, which was more than double the league-wide midseason average of 2,623.  The All-Star Game itself drew 9,160 to the Metro Centre on July 10th, 1991.  The Windjammers finished 1991 at 21 wins and 30 losses and out of playoff contention.

On-court results picked up in 1992 and Halifax sat 4th place in the league with a 19-14 record with a month to go.  But then an accounting scandal sunk the World Basketball League when it was revealed that league coffers were being propped up with funds embezzled by Youngstown Pride owner Mickey Monus from Phar-Mor, his discount pharmacy chain in the United States.  The WBL folded in mid-season on August 1, 1992 and Monus later went to federal prison.

The Windjammers regrouped in 1993 to join the start-up National Basketball League.  The NBL was an All-Canadian minor league, which included fellow WBL refugees the Hamilton Skyhawks and Winnipeg Thunder, along with new clubs in Cape Breton, Montreal and Saskatoon.  If anything, the NBL was even more unstable than the World Basketball League had been.  Montreal folded midway through the 1993 schedule and Hamilton pulled up stakes and moved to Edmonton before the season ended.  In July 1994, the entire league folded without managing to complete it second campaign.  Halifax was in first place at the time with a 15-6 record.

One notable player on the Windjammers roster in 1991 was former University of Indiana star Keith Smart who hit the famous winning shot in the 1987 NCAA title game to lift  IU over Syracuse.

 

==Downloads==

2012 interview with former WBL Director of Public Relations Director Jimmy Oldham

 

 

==Links==

World Basketball League Media Guides

World Basketball League Programs

 

==Additional Sources==

Newcomers Halifax Windjammers Leading WBL in Attendance“, Linda Deckard, Amusement Business, July 22, 1991

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Written by andycrossley

January 1st, 2014 at 2:44 pm