Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘WBL’ tag

1988 Chicago Express

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World Basketball League (1988)

Born: 1987 – International Basketball Association founding franchise.
Died: December 8, 1988 – The Express relocate to Springfield, IL.

Arena: Rosemont Horizon (16,644)

Team Colors: Scarlet Red, Royal Blue & White

Owner: Barry Fox

 

Can you launch a minor league basketball in Chicago on the shoulders of Michael Jordan’s big brother Larry?  Apparently not, as the Chicago Express of the World Basketball League lasted just one summer, playing to acres of empty seats at the suburban Rosemont Horizon in 1988.

Larry Jordan, out of North Carolina A&T, was likely the biggest “name” on the Express, but certainly not the team’s best player.  That title went to Chicago product Alfredrick Hughes, a free shooting former star at Loyola of Chicago and former 1st round pick (1985) of the San Antonio Spurs.  Hughes was a classic tweener – too short at 6′ 5″ to make it in the NBA as a power forward, but a dominant minor league, especially in the WBL, which was restricted to players 6′ 5″ and under.  In the World Basketball League, Alfredrick Hughes was a literal and figurative giant.

Jim Les was another notable player, a guard out of Bradley University in Peoria.  Les was named to the All-WBL team in 1988 and earned a spot with the Utah Jazz in the fall of 1988-89, where he appeared in 82 games.  Les eventually played parts of seven season in the NBA from 1988 to 1995.

The Head Coach of the Express was former Northwestern University coach Rich Falk.  Falk resigned late in the season and was replaced by Assistant Coach Walt Perrin.

The Express’ first game was on May 19, 1988 against the Youngstown Pride at the Rosemont Horizon.  The game drew a decent announced crowd of 5,250 and the Express treated fans to a 115-102 victory, led by Hughes with a game high 25 points and 11 boards.

The crowds quickly evaporated though.  By the end of June, team owner Barry Fox resorted to massive free ticket giveaways, which produced the Express’ two largest crowds of the season, but failed to generate much in the way of return customers.  For the season, the Express averaged fewer than 2,000 fans in the 16,000-seat Horizon.  Late in the year, the Express moved a game to the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Illinois and drew over 4,000 fans, leading to speculation that the team would move there permanently for the 1989 season.

The Express finished the 1988 season at 27-27 and earned the WBL’s fourth and final playoff spot.  After defeating the Calgary 88′s in a semi-final game, the Express played the Las Vegas Silver Streaks in the World Basketball League championship game on September 9, 1988.  The Silver Streaks won 102-95.

In December 1988, Express owner Barry Fox made the rumors official and moved the team to Springfield, Illinois.  The club competed there for two more seasons as the Illinois Express before folding at the end of the 1990 season.   The WBL folded in 1992 midway through its fifth season.

 

 

==Express Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1988 5/19/1988 vs. Youngstown Pride W 115-102 Program Rosters

 

==Links==

World Basketball League Media Guides

World Basketball League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 1st, 2014 at 3:48 pm

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

1991-1992 Dayton Wings

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World Basketball League (1991-1992)

Born: 1991 – WBL expansion franchise.
Died: August 1, 1992 – The WBL folds in midseason.

Arena: Ervin J. Nutter Center (10,632)

Team Colors: Blue & Green

Owner: Milton Kantor

 

The Dayton Wings were a short-lived minor league basketball team in the World Basketball League (1988-1992).  The WBL was a league for players 6′ 5″ and under (raised to 6′ 7″ in the final season of 1992) where guard play ruled and defense was anathema.

The Wings, owned by local grocery chain owner and basketball nut Milton Kantor, were an expansion team in 1991.  They quickly established themselves as one of the best teams in the WBL, winning their division with a 36-15 record and then defeating the Calgary 88′s in the 1991 WBL championship series.   Key players included minor league warhorse Alfredrick Hughes and former Georgetown guard Perry McDonald.

During the Wings second season in the summer of 1992, the team raced out to the best record in the league at 26-7.  But late in the season, investigators discovered that league founder and owner of the Youngstown Pride franchise Mickey Monus embezzled approximately $10 million from his Phar-Mor discount pharmacy chain to prop up the money-losing WBL.  Monus’ fellow WBL owners were unaware of the scheme, but were also dependent on the money that the Pride owner had been pumping into league coffers.  Amidst the scandal, the league shutdown on August 1, 1992 without managing to complete its fifth season of operations.

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Wings owner Milt Kantor passed away on December 23, 2012 at age 85.

 

==Downloads==

Justia case summary: United States of America vs. Michael I. Monus

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

1992 Newsweek Mickey Monus Profile 1992 Business Week Profile of Mickey Monus

 

==Links==

World Basketball League Media Guides

World Basketball League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

December 24th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

1988-1992 Youngstown Pride

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World Basketball League (1988-1992)

Born: 1987 – WBL founding franchise.
Died: August 1, 1992 – The WBL folds in midseason.

Arena: Beeghly Center

Team Colors: Royal Blue & Orange

Owner: Michael Monus

 

The Youngstown (OH) Pride were two-time champions of the World Basketball League, a summer time circuit for players 6′ 5″ tall or shorter.  The Pride won back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990, defeating the Calgary 88′s in the championship series in both seasons.

Future NBA regulars Mario Elie (1990) and Tim Legler (1989) both spent summers in Youngstown playing for the Pride on their way to the NBA.

The Pride were the model franchise of the league thanks to the patronage of Michael “Mickey” Monus, President of the Youngstown-based Phar-Mor discount pharmacy chain.  Monus poured money into the Pride and also backstopped the precarious finances of some of the league’s shakier franchises.   At his high-flying peak in 1991, Monus was even part of the ownership group working to bring a Major League Baseball expansion franchise to Denver, Colorado (the team that would ultimately become the Colorado Rockies).  But in 1992, investigators discovered that Monus was funding the Pride and the WBL an elaborate embezzlement scheme , siphoning an estimated $10 million into his pet basketball league.  Fallout from the scandal caused Phar-Mor to declare bankruptcy in 1992 and lay off 5,000 workers.  It also destroyed the World Basketball League, whose investors (other than Monus himself) were unwittingly reliant on the proceeds of Monus’ criminal enterprise to stay afloat.  The league abruptly folded on August 1, 1992 without completing its fifth season of play.

 

 

 

==Pride Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1988 5/19/1988 @ Chicago Express L 115-102 Program Rosters
1988 6/13/1988 @ Calgary 88's ?? Program
1989 5/10/1989 @ Worcester Counts  ?? Program
1989 6/7/1989 @ Worcester Counts ?? Program
1989 7/9/1989 vs. Illinois Express ?? Program Game Notes
1992 6/19/1992 @ Calgary 88's Program Game Notes

 

==YouTube==

Youngstown Pride at Vancouver Nighthawks television broadcast. 1988 season.

 

==Links==

World Basketball League Media Guides

World Basketball League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 23rd, 2013 at 8:05 pm

1988 Fresno Flames

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World Basketball League (1988)

Born: 1987 - International Basketball Association founding franchise.
Died: March 23, 1989 - The Flames cease operations.

Arena: Selland Arena (10,300)

Team Colors: Scarlet & Gold

Owners:

 

The Fresno Flames were a One-Year Wonder in the World Basketball League, a quirky organization for basketball players 6′ 5″ and shorter.

Founded in 1987, the league was originally to be known as the International Basketball Association at the time that the Flames signed on.  Original owner John O’Donnell of Newport Beach also owned the Wyoming Wildcatters of the Continental Basketball Association, but he ran out of money in February 1988, turning the Wyoming club back to the CBA to prop up and causing the Flames to fold before the IBA even tipped off its debut season.  In a frantic scramble of activity and re-alignment, the IBA became the World Basketball League and Fresno car dealer Edd Becker stepped up to resurrect the Flames franchise in time for the new league’s May 1988 opening.  O’Donnell’s lone contribution was to sign long-time University of Kansas Head Coach (1965-1983) Ted Owens to coach the team – although Owens claimed never to receive a single paycheck from the cash-strapped owner.

The Flames lasted for one season only, finishing in 5th place in the six-team WBL with a 25-29 record.  The Flames did last long enough to help launch the NBA career of former UC-Irvine guard Scott Brooks.  The WBL was made to showcase 5′ 11″ guards like Brooks.  Brooks joined the Philadelphia 76ers later in 1988 and went on to play 10 years in the NBA.  Today he is the highly regarded Head Coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he won NBA Coach-of-the-Year honors in 2010.

Auto dealer Edd Becker claimed to lose a million dollars operating the minor league Flames in the summer of 1988.  The team averaged only 1,549 fans per game (announced).  As the WBL’s second season approached the following spring, Becker looked at the ledger and saw that his team had only 100 season ticket orders for the 1989 season.  The community disinterest was clear and he folded the club on March 23, 1989.

The World Basketball League itself lasted until July 1992, when it folded in the middle of its fifth season.

 

==Flames Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1988 6/4/1988 @ Calgary 88's ?? Program
1988 6/30/1988 vs. Calgary 88's ?? Program

 

==Links==

World Basketball League Media Guides

World Basketball League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

August 10th, 2013 at 2:43 am