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SoCalHoops Pro News

SoCal Guys Get In On The
Ground Floor: ABA 2000--(Oct. 6, 2000)

What do Jamaal "Silk" Wilkes, Paul Westhead, Al Howell, Darryl Dawkins, George "Iceman" Gervin,  Richard "Sonny" Lee, Schea Cotton, and Bob Gottlieb all have in common?   Read on and find out. . .

We read the article in today's LA Times about the new ABA, the revived American Basketball Association, but since it was about 5:30 a.m. and our eyes must not have been focusing clearly, we missed the significance of seeing all of those names within a column inch of one another. . . . But later this evening, a friend called and asked, somewhat incredulously,  if we'd seen the story in today's paper about the ABA 2000.  We said "yes" and then he said, "Well, did you see the names mentioned??? "   "Yeah," we replied, we saw the story, but we confessed, we hadn't paid much attention.  Our friend said, "Well, then you've got to go check it out. . . . Really, there's a name mentioned in the story, and you just won't believe it!" he exclaimed.

So we read the story again, the one which appeared on page 16 of the paper.  The headline read:

ABA 2000 Announces Start Date
Pro basketball: League will begin play in December,
hopes to add Anaheim team.


By LON EUBANKS, Times Staff Writer

The story continued with the first lead-in paragraph:

The proposed ABA 2000 professional basketball league Thursday announced plans to begin play with eight teams in late December, and left the door open for the Anaheim Roadrunners to become the ninth.  Al Howell, president of the proposed Anaheim franchise, said he "reached an agreement in principle" Thursday for his team to play at the Arrowhead Pond.  Mike O'Donnell, the Pond's assistant general manager, confirmed the agreement.

Ok, so far so good.  A franchise in Anaheim. . . just what we need,  another pro basketball team in Southern California [yawn]. Hope they're better than the old Anaheim Amigos of the original ABA. . .  But then we read another story about the ABA 2000,  we learned that the new league is going to be pretty exciting, what with the three and four point plays which will be possible.   Here's the deal:  The ABA rules will permit an extra point to be counted if a team scores off a forced defensive turnover in the backcourt.  And that's just one of the rule changes. . . Think "XBA" and you're about halfway there.     The thought is that with more defensive pressure and the possibility to create scoring opportunities on defense, the game will be more exciting to watch and the scores will be higher, the game faster and generally more wide open.  Ok, so far so good.

But then we returned to Lon Eubanks' story.  And there was more about the SoCal guys in the league.

The article noted that there will be a franchise in Los Angeles, which will be coached by Paul Westhead.   The LA team's VP of basketball operations will be Jamaal Wilkes, who lately is more famous among those who read SoCalHoops not as a former UCLA and Laker great, but as the father of Omar Wilkes (6'-2" So. SG) from LA Loyola HS.   We also read that the league announced that Darryl Dawkins will coach the Tampa Bay francise and George "Iceman" Gervin will coach in Detroit.  We learned that Richard "Sonny" Lee, a former coach at Compton College and a former player agent, was hired to coach the proposed Anaheim franchise, and that neither the Anaheim nor Los Angeles teams have signed any players yet.   We also read that Alabama guard Schea Cotton, who left school last year, and then entered the NBA draft but was not picked up, was the top selection by Anaheim in the league's draft this past August.   According to the LA Time, Cotton, who played high school basketball at Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, told the media at a news conference that he has a contract offer from Anaheim which is being handled by his agent, and that he expects to sign this week. 

We also learned that there will be teams in Chicago, Kansas City, Memphis, Jacksonville (Florida), and Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Hampton Roads?

Yes, the Hampton Roads Titans. 

And who will coach Hampton Roads?  

Bob Gottlieb, that's who.

Yes the same Bob Gottlieb who is currently the coach and owner of the Branch West Basketball Academy, and father of Doug Gottlieb (6'-1" PG) who graduated from Oklahoma this past spring and who led the NCAA in assists for much of his career with the Cowboys.  Bob will also be director of basketball operations for the Virginia franchise, and while the story didn't say so, we're willing to bet that the Hampton Roads Titans (that's the name of the new team) will also be signing an Oklahoma alumnus as their starting point guard. . .

Here's what the Times story said about Gottlieb:

Bob Gottlieb of Orange, a former college coach at Jacksonville and Wisconsin Milwaukee who is now director of the Anaheim-based Branch West Basketball Academy, said Thursday he has reached an agreement to coach and be director of basketball operations for Hampton Roads.

We then went looking around on the internet to see what else we could find about this new league, and sure enough, it's already got a website of it's own, the ABA2000.com site, and despite the absence of a lot of content, it's a pretty nice site. Not as flashy as the NBA.com site, but then what do you expect, since there hasn't really been an ABA since 1976 when the league disappeared with only six viable teams remaining, and only four of those remaining six teams wound up surviving to make it into the NBA  (can you name the six survivors in that last season, and the four that remained after the leagues were merged?. . . Answers below).   But the ABA is back, along with the trademarked Red, White & Blue basketball.  And there it was:  Official confirmation from the ABA2000's own web site, which listed Bob Gottlieb as the coach, right under the "Contact Us" section of the Titan's personnel listings.  We checked some of the local Virginia papers, including the Hampton Roads DailyPress.com, but could not find any local stories on the Titans, nor on Gottlieb being named the coach.    Thus it looks like the end of BWBA, and on to the ABA for Bob. 

We're sure that we'll be hearing more about them though as their first season gets going.  Stay tuned.

(Trivia Answer:  The six teams in old ABA who survived into the last season were:  The Indiana Pacers,  The Denver Nuggets,  The New York Nets (now NJ Nets),  The San Antonio Spurs,  The Kentucky Colonels, and the Spirits of St. Louis. . . . The four that were merged were Indiana, Denver, New York and San Antonio).

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