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BENCHED: ABA TO SIT OUT YEAR

League Hopes to Return in 2004

Monday, October 7, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS, IN- There will be no American Basketball Association season in 2002-2003, but league organizers hope to try again in January of 2004.

League co-founder and CEO Joe Newman, in a posting on the Oursports Central message board, revealed that the decision had been made last Friday to suspend play for the 2002-2003 season, primarily because of "the economy and sponsorships."

Newman later confirmed to almostbasketball that he had, indeed, authored the post.

Planning now for a return with a 30-game schedule in January 2004, Newman said he has received ten positive responses from potential teams interested in that time frame. "It appears that we will have overwhelming support for a 'new' ABA," said Newman, which is surprising only in that there was underwhelming support for the most recent ABA.

Promising a new concept in "alternative" basketball leagues, this ABA, founded in part by founders of the original ABA which played from 1967-76, tipped off on the day after Christmas, 2000 with teams in Detroit, Memphis, Indianapolis, Chicago, St.Petersburg, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and San Diego. By season's end, half the teams were gone, and seven clubs (including a reborn Chicago franchise that shifted to Las Vegas halfway through the season) opened a second season December 26, 2001.

Plagued by poor crowds, mysteriously-cancelled games, inconsistent rosters and reports of players and staff not being paid, the ABA limped through the season, crowning the Kansas City Knights its second champion after a sparsely-attended league tournament in Las Vegas in April.

The offseason had seen little news from the ABA hierarchy, with only cryptic reports from Knights' owner Jim Clark lending hope to those who were optimistic there would be a third season.