teams play ball
By Craig DeVrieze / QUAD-CITY TIMES
Two former Continental Basketball Association franchises will
begin a new chapter as International Basketball League opponents
tonight in Sioux Falls, S.D., and a handful of other former CBA
teams may join them next week.
The Quad-City Thunder will not be among them.
Thunder players will begin leaving the Quad-Cities today to
look for opportunities elsewhere, general manager Kim Evans said
Friday, a day after the league announced an indefinite suspension
owner Jay Gellerman said again Friday that he will not accept
Thursday’s offer from the trust representing Isiah Thomas to re-assume ownership
of the team.
are among at least six ex-CBA teams expected to close their
doors for good, although IBL CEO Ralph
said Friday that former CBA franchises and their ex-owners have
an open invitation — with no specific deadline — to
join his year-old, six-team league.
The CBA league office in Phoenix closed for business Thursday
Ivan Thornton, head of the trust representing Thomas, said Friday
that decisions will be made next week regarding outstanding payroll
and possible refunds on advance tickets by fans and sponsors
whose teams will not be taken back by former owners.
Thornton said Thomas, who bought the CBA and its nine teams
for $9 million-plus in 1999, will not be making a statement concerning
the midseason collapse of the 55-year-old league.
He said Thomas
is precluded from talking about the CBA as part of an October
deal with the NBA’s Board of Governors that
allowed him to coach the NBA’s Indiana Pacers by placing
the CBA in the blind trust.
Meanwhile, a game pitting the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the Gary
Steelheads tonight will be the first involving former CBA teams
under the IBL banner.
As of Friday night, those were the only two of 10 former CBA
teams certain to continue operations as IBL league members this
year. One source said Friday afternoon, though, that no fewer
than four former CBA teams will follow in the coming days.
IBL’s Rossi: “I believe
there will be more than you think.”
the Sioux Falls insurance company owner who formerly owned
the Skyforce, said Friday that he
and partner Greg Heineman
re-assumed ownership of the Sioux Falls club for the nominal
fee of $1 paid to the trust. The agreement came with the stipulation
that they assume all expenses and liabilities “going forward,” Larsen
not say whether the Sioux Falls owners helped shape Thursday’s
give-back offer by the trust representing Thomas, but confirmed
they had talked to the trust
as late as Thursday
“It was simply the way it played out,” said Larsen,
who met with the IBL’s Rossi a week ago to discuss purchasing
the CBA from the trust in order to merge it with the IBL. “Isiah
came back and did what was right, even though it was the 11th
partner Jewel Thomas, who bought into the league as a minority
expansion-team partner with Thomas
did not return phone calls Friday, but said prior to Thursday’s
offer: “If the CBA folds, we are on our own anyway.”
Former Idaho Stampede majority partner Bill Ilett and Fort Wayne
associate owner Jay Leonard told the Quad-City Times on Thursday
that they are not interested in re-assuming ownership of their
majority owner Jay Frye softened that stance some Friday, but
not much, telling the Associated
is less than a one-percent chance of me getting back into this.”
Former La Crosse owner Bill Bosshard told the La Crosse Tribune
he will not buy back in and the Associated Press reported that
ex-Yakima Sun Kings owner Otis Harlan has no plans to pick up
owner Wayne Timpe had been expected to commit Friday afternoon,
but changed directions, telling
Register-Star he will use the coming weekend to review the IBL’s
financial outlook. He will make a decision Monday.
Connecticut also may join the IBL. Although that franchise historically
has failed to draw fans in big-market Hartford, deep-pocketed
former owner Brian J. Foley never worried before about the financial
Rossi indicated he will wait at least until Monday to make decisions
on how former CBA teams will be integrated into the IBL.
“It will probably be partially integrated, depending on
the number of teams and on the timing,” he said.
The IBL currently features teams in Las Vegas, St. Louis, Cincinnati,
Trenton, N.J., Albuquerque, N.M. and San Diego, Calif.