Highlights from representing Heaves at ABA meetings
Posted: Wednesday February 15, 2006 2:48PM; Updated: Wednesday February 15, 2006 2:48PM
After 14 years of running five different NBA teams at the point, Tim Hardaway is now running an ABA squad from the front office.
Robert Laberge /Allsport
Alexander Wolff will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
This wasn't my first ABA owners meeting. I'd gone to one last April, at an airport hotel in Indianapolis, where I asked lots of questions, got roused by a wee-hours fire alarm, and generally sussed out the motley scene. There's nothing quite like listening to former NBA center Acie Earl, then fresh off a season as coach of the Tijuana Dragons, hold court with Oliver Miller room service stories.
But a just-concluded long weekend at the ABA All-Star Game and winter meetings in South Florida -- longer still because of the blizzard in the Northeast -- was my first as a bona fide, franchise-wielding, drink-deep-the-cigar-smoke-befouled-air owner.
You have to understand: For someone who came of age in the '70s, it's one thing to be the owner of a pro basketball team, and quite another to be the owner of a team in the ABA. To me, ABA owners had sideburns like carpet remnants. They made fast-food franchising fortunes greater than "fast-food franchising fortunes" is alliterative. They married Miss Americas.
Of course, like the arriviste boor at the blue-blood country club, John Y. Brown went on to nearly ruin a tony NBA team (the Boston Celtics) by trading for a player (Bob McAdoo) simply because his Miss America wife (Phyllis George) took a fancy to him.
Not to worry: That's not the kind of ABA owner the founder of the Vermont Frost Heaves intends to be. Or, goodness knows, can afford to be. My wife, Vanessa, is getting a night out, not a power forward, for Valentine's Day.
As for my fellow plutocrats, they're such a varied group that I'm loath to make any sweeping generalizations. Instead, let's look at a sampling, one at a time:
Our host, Tim Hardaway, who in addition to doing All-Star duty as a Florida Pit Bull point guard holds a 10 percent stake in the team and tends to G.M. and assistant coaching chores.
Melvin Coles, who makes his money by importing incense and owns ABA teams in Baltimore, Long Island and Montreal with his wife, Serena Locker-Coles. The Coleses are partnering with the city of Alexandria, Va., and the government of Mongolia to found Alexandria-Mongolia United -- as much a diplomatic initiative as a basketball team.
Maryland Nighthawks owner Tom Doyle, who will be launching a similar team in D.C., the Washington Internationals. The Internationals will feature players from 12 countries, and cause quite the stir, it can be assumed, along Embassy Row.
Michael Tuckman, who founded the Tacoma Navigators and Bellevue Blackhawks after selling his independent TV station in the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle there's a huge network affiliate called KING; before the FCC lifted its ban on a companies owning more than one station in a market, Tuckman had the good sense to start KONG.