Continental Basketball Association confronts an uncertain future - Feb 10, 2009
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A strange and unsettling basketball season came to a premature end Sunday night, and with it perhaps an entire league. The Continental Basketball Association, with roots that predate the N.B.A., is once again on the brink of extinction.
After starting its season with only four teams, then last week facing the prospect that one of those had reached the end of its financial tether, the league abruptly called off the remainder of the regular season almost six weeks early, perhaps signaling the end of independent minor league basketball.
Any time you try to run a league with four teams, things like this can happen, said the former N.B.A star Micheal Ray Richardson, the second-year coach of the defending C.B.A. champion Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry. But my gut feeling, and I could be wrong, is the league will be around next year.
The Cavalry, based in Oklahoma, were in first place and happened to be visiting the second-place Albany Patroons when the season was ended, so a best-of-three championship series was hastily arranged here. The Cavalry went on to win the title, taking Game 3, 109-107 in overtime, before 600 fans on Sunday night,
The whole thing is very unfortunate because the league has so much history, Cavalry guard DeAnthony Bowden said of the leagues plight. But Im not surprised, because it had a very rocky start.
A year ago, there were 10 teams in the league, but five folded after last season and the Pittsburgh Xplosion went dark in the fall. So with only four teams remaining, the league devised a plan to play the first two months of the 2008-9 season against teams from the American Basketball Association, a new league that several C.B.A owners called a joke.
We refused to play them, said Mike Brown, one of four owners of the Cavalry. Jay Fiedler, a former N.F.L. quarterback who is the owner of the East Kentucky Miners, said his team reluctantly beat one inept A.B.A. team by 102 points in the fall.
In January, the regular season began in far-flung places like Lawton, Okla.; Pikeville, Ky.; Minot, N.D.; and Albany, where Phil Jackson once won a C.B.A. championship as a coach in front of packed houses.
But by February, Fiedlers Miners were hemorrhaging cash and in danger of closing operations, so the schedule was suspended and the finals began.
I dont think it was necessarily because of us, Fiedler said, adding, We felt it was a good thing to end some of the bleeding and focus on a long-term approach to save the league.
The C.B.A. dates to the old Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League in 1946, months before the N.B.A. was founded, but its history has been far more erratic.
Over the decades, it has been less a viable sports league than a shifting platform on which a fluid collection of struggling small-town teams materialized and evaporated, some of them lasting only months. There were the heady days of the 1980s and 90s, when players like Stacey King, Mario Elie and Albert King played in front of crowds of 5,000 people. Today, there is merely hope, and not a lot of it.
Many former C.B.A. owners blame Isiah Thomas, the former owner of the league, for destroying the C.B.A. when it went bankrupt in 2001. But the league re-emerged months later after new owners bought the name.
Thomass friend and ally Brendan Suhr, a former C.B.A. owner, pointed out that Thomas was forced to place the league in a blind trust when he became the coach of the Indiana Pacers in 2000.
That was the end, Suhr said. He was the spiritual leader, but he wasnt allowed to participate at all.
It was once the second-best league in the world. Now, its not even on the radar.
On Saturday, officials from the four remaining teams, including Fiedler, held a five-hour meeting at the Washington Avenue Armory, the home of the Patroons. All expressed cautious confidence that the league could continue next year, but only if it doubled in size.
Each team was given a mandate to find owners for one additional team in its geographic area, which would significantly help with the cost of travel.
We cant go forward with four teams, said John Zelbst, a lawyer and rancher who is a co-owner of the Cavalry. A four-team league wont work.
Zelbst, who wears a cowboy hat and tells stories of playing football at the University of Oklahoma for Barry Switzer in the 1970s, acknowledged that ego was a primary reason for buying the team last year. He said his team lost more than $300,000 in 2008, with losses expected in the six figures again this season. He vowed to push on for one reason.
Al Ansar Medina (SBL) signed 28-year old American guard Greg Foster (188-84kg-89, college: Saginaw Valley). He played last summer at Fort Wayne Flite (CBA) in the U.S. Foster helped them to win the league title (twice) (also twice). A very impressive season as he was voted USBasket.com All-CBA Guard of the Year and named to 1st Team. The previous (2014) summer he played at another team Diesels in U.S. semi-pro league PBL where in 16 games he had 13.2ppg, 4.5rpg, 4.9apg (top 4) and 1.4spg... [read more]
Al Ansar Medina (SBL) signed 28-year old American guard Greg Foster (188-84kg-89, college: Saginaw Valley). He played last summer at Fort Wayne Flite (CBA) in the U.S. Foster helped them to win the league title (twice) (also twice). A very impressive season as he was voted USBasket.com All-CBA Guard of the Year and named to 1st Team. The previous (2014) summer he played at another team Diesels in U.S. semi-pro league PBL where in 16 games he had 13.2ppg, 4.5rpg, 4.9apg (top 4) and 1.4spg in 2014 season. Foster contributed to his team making it to the final after they ended regular season as second best team. Two years ago (three years after he left the college) Foster was drafted by Halifax Hurricanes (NBL Canada) as #4 pick overall. He attended Saginaw Valley State University (NCAA Div.II) until 2012 and it is his fifth season in pro basketball. Foster is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in D-League (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), IBL (Portland C.), PBL (Indiana D.), UBA (Cleveland Havok) and ABA (Indy Naptown All Stars and Sugar Land L.).
One hundred days away from the start of the league's fifth year, as the CBA unveils 2017 season schedule - 3 months ago
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As the Central Basketball Association prepares for the start of its fifth year in approximately one hundred days, the league has revamped its lineup of member teams for the upcoming season, with an even greater emphasis on competitive, financial, and organizational strength. Three new teams have joined the league for the 2017 season, in the form of Baltimore, Washington, and Illinois, while Peoria, Springfield, Columbus, and Memphis have been left off next year's lineup of participating c... [read more]
As the Central Basketball Association prepares for the start of its fifth year in approximately one hundred days, the league has revamped its lineup of member teams for the upcoming season, with an even greater emphasis on competitive, financial, and organizational strength. Three new teams have joined the league for the 2017 season, in the form of Baltimore, Washington, and Illinois, while Peoria, Springfield, Columbus, and Memphis have been left off next year's lineup of participating clubs. After engaging in last month's annual league meetings at the Under Armour Headquarters in Baltimore, this year's eight member teams have begun preparations behind-the-scenes to ensure cooperation, growth, and success on and off the court. The 2017 season is set to begin March 25, with the seven-week regular season concluding on May 7, followed by the postseason knockout tournament held during the weekend of May 20-21 in Danville, Ill. Each team will continue to play the traditional eight-game league schedule, with four games at home and four games on the road, followed by the top-four teams advancing to the playoffs. Critical matchups during the season will occur within the long-distance trips throughout the season. In the first half of the season, Mississippi, Baltimore, and Washington will have road games in Illinois and Indiana. In the latter half of the season, the defending league champion and runner-up, Fort Wayne and Middle Tennessee, respectively, will fly to the East Coast to play in Maryland and the District of Columbia, while Illinois and Indianapolis travel south to compete in Kentucky and Tennessee. League players that make the final rosters for the respective CBA teams, will have their respective registration process with the league begin on February 15, as well. They will earn the opportunity to participate in the 2017 season, as well as the opportunity to be involved in the 2017-2018 CBA Global Opportunities Program in the offseason. Next year's international opportunities are scheduled to include Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. In the last three years, over 150 players have been provided an opportunity by the CBA to participate in basketball competition on international soil in over 30 nations, including 13 players in the past year within the league's CBA Brazil initiative. With the league's current partnership with Under Armour to schedule to grow further for the upcoming season, as well as forthcoming announcements of partnerships with additional major brands, the CBA is continuing to be at the forefront in the revolution of the minor league basketball industry. Courtesy of: playcba.com
New set of league players en route to South America to participate in CBA Brazil competition - 3 months ago
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In the fall of 2015, the Central Basketball Association, as part of its CBA Global Opportunities Program traveled to South America to initiate the beginning of the CBA Brazil project - a league initiative allowing for the bilateral exchange of players between the United States and Brazil. Following the inaugural trip, in which eight players participated in the week-long set of exhibition games in Rio de Janeiro, five individuals were offered opportunities to play competitively in South Am... [read more]
In the fall of 2015, the Central Basketball Association, as part of its CBA Global Opportunities Program traveled to South America to initiate the beginning of the CBA Brazil project - a league initiative allowing for the bilateral exchange of players between the United States and Brazil. Following the inaugural trip, in which eight players participated in the week-long set of exhibition games in Rio de Janeiro, five individuals were offered opportunities to play competitively in South America, ultimately resulting in three athletes traveling to Brazil to kickstart the CBA Brazil campaign. Over a year later, two more CBA players are on their way to South America, as a pair of former Springfield teammates are scheduled to begin competition in Sao Paulo this weekend. Former Carl Sandburg University product, and 6-foot point guard, Shaun Manney (6'0''-G-90, college: Carl Sandburg JC), played the last two seasons in the league, with his top performance during the 2015 campaign, where he averaged 11.8 points per game, 5.3 assists per game, and 5.1 rebounds per game. The Chicago-native, Manney, also held the record for most assists in a playoff game with 14 in a quarterfinal loss against Bowling Green in 2015. Pairing up with Manney is 6-foot-4 small forward, St. Louis-native, Levi Smith (6'4''-F-87, college: Florissant Vl.CC), who led Springfield this past season averaging 14.9 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game, including scoring in double-digits in all seven games he played in 2016. This will be Smith's first international opportunity, as is the case with Manney. The two players will be the first group of athletes heading to Brazil for the 2016-2017 CBA Brazil season, as more CBA players are expected to travel to South America in the coming months. To date, there have been five players who have received opportunities to play in Brazil since the inaugural trip in 2015, and over nearly 160 CBA players that have been given the chance to play on international soil since 2013. Courtesy of: playcba.com
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