Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1979-1984 Dallas Diamonds

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Women’s Professional Basketball League (1979-1981)
Women’s American Basketball Association (1984)

Born: 1979 – WPBL expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1981 – The WPBL ceases operations.

Revived: 1984 – WABA founding franchise.
Dead Again: December 1984 – The WABA ceases operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Blue & Silver

Owners:

 

 

This is really a  page for two separate but closely linked teams called the Dallas Diamonds.  The original Diamonds were an expansion franchise during the second season of the pioneering Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).  Owner Judson Phillips, a Dallas-area McDonald’s franchisee, expected to lose $100,000 over three years of operations.  Instead he lost it in the first two months.  In January 1980, Phillips called a press conference to fold the team, but a local real estate executive named Michael Staver stepped in to save the franchise.

The Diamonds experienced their greatest success under Staver, moving from the obscure Dallas Convention Center to SMU’s Moody Coliseum and signing the biggest star of the women’s game in that era, Nancy Lieberman, as a rookie for the 1980-81 season.  With Lieberman on board, the Diamonds advanced to the 1981 WPBL Championship Series, where they lost to the Nebraska Wranglers.  However, the original WPBL never played another game.  The league shut down after Lieberman’s rookie season.

WPBL founder Bill Byrne came back with a new women’s league in 1984, hoping to get a boost from the anticipated strong performance of the U.S. women in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  The U.S. would compete against weak competition thanks to the Soviet bloc boycott.  The American women held up their end of the bargain winning Olympic gold.  But the Byrne’s Women’s American Basketball Association was badly under-capitalized and most of the Olympians chose to return to their far more stable overseas clubs rather than try their luck in a shaky looking domestic league.

The Diamonds were the only WPBL team to be revived three seasons later for the WABA.  Lieberman returned, as did Head Coach Greg Williams.  Moody Coliseum was the home arena again.  However, Staver was gone.  The new owner was Ed Dubaj, a Memphis-based NFL agent who managed the business affairs for a half dozen Dallas Cowboys players, including starting quarterback Danny White.  Unlike his rivals, Dubaj managed to sign the best players in the women’s game to join his team.  He started by re-signing Lieberman and then coaxed twin sisters Pam and Paula McGee from the University of Southern California to sign with the club.  Pam won Olympic gold with the U.S. women that summer and was one of the few Olympic team stars to actually join the WABA.

It’s strange to say that a league that lasted about eight weeks had a “best team”, but the Dallas Diamonds were clearly the class of the WABA, finishing the league’s abbreviated season with a 19-2 mark.

WABA cities began dropping out of the league even before the season began in October 1984.  By late November, it was all but over.  Bill Byrne was forced out by the disgruntled owners (as he had been in the WPBL) and Dubaj assumed leadership of the league.  The remainder of the season was cancelled and a hastily schedule championship game was played sometime in early December 1984, with the Diamonds defeating the Chicago Spirit.  Dubaj spoke of reorganizing for a second season in 1985, but the league was never heard from again.

 

==Diamonds Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1979-80 12/4/1979 vs. Minnesota Fillies L 102-91 Program
1980-81 12/5/1980 vs. New Jersey Gems W 102-87 Game Notes Scorer's Report
1984 11/27/1984 vs. Chicago Spirit ?? Scorecard

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Diamonds owner Ed Dubaj passed away in November 2012 at the age of 72.

 

==YouTube==

In 2011, former WPBL and WABA star “Machine Gun” Molly Bolin posted this rare cable TV footage of a 1984 game between the Dallas Diamonds and her Columbus Minks on her Youtube page.

 

==Downloads==

1984 WABA Media Guide (complete .PDF)

1984 Dallas Diamonds Season Ticket Brochure

 

==Links==

Women’s Professional Basketball League Media Guides

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs

Women’s American Basketball Association Programs

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