“I’m on the DMV Warriors. Yeah, I know.”
~ABA Basketball Players
Last week we went over the history of the second iteration of the American Basketball Association, or ABA, which so far has not given us a player like Moses Malone, but has had thousands upon thousands of people play in it since its 2000 inauguration simply due to the fact that over 350 teams have shuttered in the league’s relatively brief history. Though comically enough, this iteration of the ABA has already lasted a good eight years longer than its predecessor. Lol.
So far, we’ve already talked about the league, with its “so hands off it practically does not exist” management style and it’s “wait you potentially can score a 5-point field goal?” rule set. Now we’re going to take a step back and look at the beating heart of the league. The teams themselves.
A Brief, Incomplete History of the American Basketball Association (No, The OTHER ABA): Part 2- The Teams
According to Wikipedia, as of the writing of this article there are 61 active teams in the ABA, so who knows how many are still around. Admittedly, the ABA’s website itself lists over 100 teams on their most recent standings, but as some teams are listed as not having played since January sporting an 0-2 record, we can assume a lot of them have already folded. Again, this league is ridiculous and hilarious. Their CEO decided to resign after the New York Times tried to interview him for an article about his league, but is still listed as CEO on the league’s site. Though, to be fair, the website itself looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1998, which is impressive for a league that started in the year 2000.
Anyway, what kind of teams would play in this delightful and super-non-profitable league? These guys.
We’ll start off with a team that has a relatively normal name, a location that’s populated enough to warrant sports franchises, and a history of dominance, just because we can’t spend this entire time making fun of goofy team names or weird backgrounds. The Giants were formed in 2010 by Ron Sholes, a Jacksonville attorney. This was the second Jacksonville team to play for the ABA, after a failed run by the Jacksonville Jam (yes seriously that was their name) in 2006.
Now, Sholes work as an attorney doesn’t necessarily speak positively or negatively to his ability to run a semi-pro franchise, but Jacksonville seems to have struck lightning in a bottle with the Personal Injury Attorney and Navy vet. And honestly, that’s fucking amazing, as the man running this team is the same man who uses the following image to advertise his practice.
Despite checking off every bad law firm ad cliché, he actually had a knack in promoting his team, signing a contract with the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena for home games, and even getting television and radio stations to broadcast the games. They went 23-0 in their first regular season, and averaged 2,000 fans a game, which honestly is a lot more than we’d expect to show up for an ABA game where there’s a very real chance that the other team just won’t show up. They won the title the next two years before winning again in 2016 and 2017 title. They are legitimate juggernauts as far as the league is concerned, and pretty much are one of the few markets that actually treat the product like it’s professional basketball. In 2014 they managed to score the most points in league history (a whopping 222), beating their own record of 211 a year before, and also had the highest regular season attendance in ABA history in 2016, with almost 9,000 showing up. Ron Sholes, not surprisingly, won the ABA Owner of the Year award in 2015.
So yeah, pretty impressive team, with a not lame name. These are the gold standard that the rest of the league has no hope in matching. We’ll just ignore how they advertise the fact that they have a 40-person-strong dance team, with two groups, one ranging from 18 to 25 in age and one…filled with teenagers as young as 13. Um…..
The DMV Warriors
Okay, so we totally picked this team because it looks like they’re a franchise for the DMV, which would be hilarious. But they’re not! No, they are a fun side-effect of the whole “all you need to buy a team is $10,000 and a dream” approach this league takes, and they’re owned by Dwyane Wade. Yes, the Dwyane Wade, as in the future hall-of-famer who still is playing in the real basketball league that people actually watch.
Now, technically they claim to be (the Caps Lock is just how they posted it on their Facebook page for some reason) “SPONSORED BY THE CHICAGO BULLS DWYANE WADE’S WAYOFWADE.COM” but we’re going to just say it’s Dwayne Wade’s team, because wayofwade.com is not at all what you think it is. You thought it was like, a charity or something, right? Nope, it’s just his brand that exclusively sells sneakers.
Anyway, the DMV Warriors actually are pretty good. Based out of Gwynn Oak, Maryland, they have made the playoffs just about every year they’ve been in the league, and at one point were at the top of the league’s power rankings, which we’re pretty confident is not super meticulously updated. Either way, it makes sense that Dwyane Wade’s team that he bought to boost his brand is pretty good, he’s probably one of the few owners that can actually afford to pay his players.
Sure, we picked this out of dozens of eligible teams due to the Simpsons connotations, but we also think it’s hilarious that there’s an ABA team that played home games at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Now, granted, they played at least one playoff game in a High School in Agawam, Massachusetts, which scans a bit more correctly, but still. They’ve just played in the 2016-2017 season so far, where they finished with the 2 seed in the Northeast Division (there are like seven divisions, but whatever). The reason they played their playoff games at a different location was that the high school stadium actually has more capacity than the court at the Basketball Hall of Fame, which seems to imply that the Basketball Hall of Fame must be pretty shitty.
Given the track record of the league, we give them a 50/50 chance of returning next year. Cool logo, though.
Okay, we can’t decide if we love or hate the name “Thundersnow.” Like, it’s patently absurd, no matter what, but we’re not sure if it’s so absurd it’s secretly brilliant, or if it’s just dumb. Like, “oh wow, thunder during a snow storm, what an imposing mascot.” Anyway, they’re based out of Niagra Falls, and have been around for about three years. It appears that they used to be in the PBL (Premier Basketball League), which is what they still list on their own Facebook page, but they’re in the ABA as of this writing (probably). By the way, it took us way too long to figure out that “WNY” means “West New York.” That’s a stupid idea, just call yourselves the New York Thundersnow, or the Niagara Thundersnow, or maybe the Niagara Falls as that’s a much cooler name than Thundersnow.
But it’s not the stupidest name in the league at the moment. That honor goes to…
Jesus Christ. This may be the first ever professional sports team (outside of Northern Spain) that has a lisp in their name. So this team, that plays in Marietta, Georgia (ie, a town of like, 56,000) and has been around in one form or the other since 2004. They’ve got a pretty wild history, moving to the ABA in 2007 before moving to the Continental Basketball League in 2009. They lasted for exactly one year, before they were kicked out for not traveling to two different games in a season. See, you can no-show games in the ABA, but the CBL, a league you have never heard of, doesn’t stand for that shit. Anyway, since the ABA will do anything for teams, they were allowed to re-enter the league in 2010, because of course they were.
But none of that matters, next to their name. Their stupid fucking name.
The Gwizzlies. Ugh.
But as bad as that is…oh yes, it gets worst. Stay tuned for two articles on Defunct Teams with ridiculous names and even more ridiculous backstories. Because, again, the ABA is a hilarious joke, and our new favorite sports league.