Hoops Hell - Are There Too Many Leagues in Minor & Independent Basketball?

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NBA Development League (D-League). CBA. USBL. ABA. IBL. WBL. ANBL. This month another startup basketball league, the Universal Basketball League (UBL) announced it will begin operation and is seeking interested owners. Is the explosion of teams and leagues in pro hoops the good news, or is it a calamity in the making that may bring basketball, and its reputation in communities across North America, down? MLN Sports investigates.

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NBA Development League (D-League). CBA. USBL. ABA. IBL. WBL. ANBL. This month another startup basketball league, the Universal Basketball League (UBL) announced it will begin operation and is seeking interested owners. The 2006-2007 season will mark the largest count of professional basketball leagues and teams, both domestically and globally, in the history of the sport.

Is that the good news about the sport, or is it a calamity in the making that may bring basketball, and its reputation in communities across North America, down?

MLN Sports in-depth feature on the crowded world of professional minor league and independent basketball explores the question this month in the October issue of MLN SportsZone (http://www.mlnsportszone.com), the oldest continously-running four-sport professional minor league and indy sports magazine.

"The NBA couldn't buy the CBA from Isaiah Thomas in 1999," notes MLN Sr. Editor Brian Ross, "but they could offer, in 2006, three of the core franchises that brought the league back from bankruptcy a return to the Triple-A, sanctioned developmental status that they enjoyed when the CBA was the development league of choice."

The Idaho Stampede, Dakota Wizards, and the Sioux Falls SkyForce, clubs built from the wreckage of the bankrupt CBA, who had brought the league back to better health, D-parted for the D-League.

The CBA, the oldest professional basketball league in North America, scrambled to rebuild, announcing expansion cities and offering admission to five of the top American Basketball Association (ABA) clubs, including Tim Hardaway's Florida Pit Bulls.

Beyond the three larger leagues, the venerable USBL, and several upstart leagues including the IBL and the newly announced UBL also operate in different parts of the United States.

The crowding of the leagues was felt this month in head-butting over the No. 1 CBA Draft pick for 2006, Dayshawn Wright out of Syracuse University (See: "Do The Wright Thing," MLNSportsZone.com, http://www.minorleaguenews.com/basketball/features/articles2006/10/18/01.html
). The ABA Buffalo Siverbacks allege that they had signed Wright to a contract before the CBA Minot Skyrockets drafted and signed him, touching off a very testy exchange in the minor league sports media.

MLN asks the commissioners and CEOs of the leagues for their take on the state of minor league hoops, the availability of players, and breaks down all of the drama surrounding the summer's explosive off-season.

For the full article, see the magazine cover at http://www.mlnsportszone.com until November 17th, 2006 or go direct to "Hoops Hell" (http://www.minorleaguenews.com/basketball/features/articles2006/10/24/01.html )

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BRIAN ROSS
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