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Semi-professional basketball back with a vengeance in Buffalo

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

The recent history of basketball in Buffalo is murky and unsettled—and it’s about to get crazier.

Two Buffalo teams will join two different semi-professional basketball associations. The Buffalo Warriors, who ran out of money and were forced to fold mid-season in the Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League, have started anew in the Premier Basketball Association for the 2013 season. Co-owners Terence “Bermuda” Dill and Eddie Bednarz will run the team whose schedule opens March 1, 2013.

For the Buffalo 716ers of the expanding American Basketball Association, play won’t begin until late 2013, when the league will assimilate 12 new clubs (including the gloriously named Riverside Rainmakers). Co-owner Franklin Jackson, who served as co-general manager with Dill on the now-defunct ACPBL Warriors, will collaborate with Tawan Slaughter at the helm.

The 716ers will be closely associated with Beyond Ballers, a basketball, urban lifestyle magazine also headed by Jackson. According to the brand’s Facebook page, a 5 v. 5 basketball tournament is scheduled for Dec. 21 to 23 at the Delavan Grider Community Center.

This ABA is a different organization than the association that supported the Buffalo Braves, of Bob McAdoo and Randy Smith fame. Known for having more than 200 defunct franchises since its 1999 debut, the Queen City once had another ABA team, the Buffalo Sharks, which featured local legends like Tim Winn, Turner Battle and Modie Cox. The team folded in 2007-2008 when during Paul Riley’s ill-fated Buffalo Dragons experiment that failed to get off the ground.

Interested in the future of basketball in Buffalo for several months now, I reached out to Brian Graham, commissioner of the old ACPBL and the new Federation of American Professional Basketball, and asked for details into the Warriors’ struggles and quick demise.

“They ran out of money,” Graham said this summer in regard to the team co-owned by Dill and Jackson. “They didn’t fold—they were released from the league. [The Warriors] weren’t making games, even ones that were rescheduled.”

“Buffalo does have good fans, though,” he added. “I’ve had 12-13 inquiries in the last six months about Buffalo, fans wondering if there’s a future for the team.”

The problem that Buffalo basketball owners have failed to come to grips with, however, is that owning a fledgling professional team—at least in the short-term—is far from profitable.

“You’re going to lose money [when owning a team],” Graham said succinctly. “Accept it—networking and sponsors can help reclaim some, but it’s tough.”

Now split into two separate entities—but lowering their sights from full professional to semi-pro—Jackson and Dill will press forward in trying to make basketball relevant in Buffalo.

(Featured photo courtesy of Flickr / acidpix).

TAGGED: basketball, buffalo 716ers, buffalo warriors, ed bednarz, franklin jackson, terence dill, tim winn

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