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MVPete

KANSAS CITY (April 15, 2002) - The Kansas City Knights were clearly the best team in the ABA this season, but picking the most outstanding player from a group of outstanding players was not so clear-cut.

Forward Pete Mickeal, who finished first on the Knights and fifth in the league in scoring, earned the ABA's Most Valuable Player Award for 2001-2002, it was announced Monday.

The former University of Cincinnati star averaged 23.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game after joining the Knights, and was also named the MVP of last week's championship tournament after scoring 20 and 27 points in wins over the Las Vegas Slam and Southern California Surf.

“Pete is a tough, hard working, hard playing player," said Knights' coach Kevin Pritchard. "He picks up his pail, puts on his hard hat and goes to work every time he steps on the court. There wasn’t one day, one game, one practice that Pete Mickeal didn’t bring his ‘A’ game in terms of effort, desire and will to win. He policed our team. When we were playing bad, he was one of two or three guys who always seemed to step up. He’s a huge part of why we won the championship.”

In a totally unscientific web poll on almostbasketball, Mickeal finished second to Jamel Thomas of the Phoenix Eclipse in voting by fans, 27%-22%.


Stars Struck

KANSAS CITY (April 14, 2002) - Still giddy from winning the ABA championship on Friday night, the Kansas City Knights fell behind the ABA All-Stars Whose Names Were Never Announced By The League Like They Said They Would Be 36-33 after one quarter Sunday afternoon at Kemper Arena.

Even though the game was an exhibition that wouldn't have counted against their 24-game win streak, the Knights regrouped behind 46 points by Maurice Carter and won anyway, 161-138, putting paid to the second ABA season.

Then again, this being the ABA, "putting paid" is probably not the correct phrase to use. Okay, it ended the season, less than 48 hours after some 200 people watched Kansas City defeat Southern California 118-113 to win the championship in Las Vegas.

The ABA, which didn't even announce the Knights' win on its website until Sunday, didn't announce any expansion teams for next season, though it had originally said it hoped to, and didn't announce which players would take part in the All-Star Game, though it had promised to.

Now an article in Sunday's Kansas City Star quotes Knights' owner Jim Clark as saying he hopes the league would have all its teams in place by June 1 and a schedule announced in July to facilitate marketing of a third ABA season.

Write this down as we sit here on April 14: The ABA has no chance of announcing by June 1 which teams would make up its lineup for a third season, no chance of releasing a schedule in July, and if it does take the court in November or December, neither the lineup nor the schedule will bear a resemblance to anything announced in June or July.


Knights Crowned

LAS VEGAS (April 12, 2002) - In a season of turmoil for the reincarnated American Basketball Association, the Kansas City Knights were a model of consistency.

The Knights capped a magical season Friday night, defeating the Southern California Surf 118-113 to win the league tournament championship game at Cox Pavillion.

Maurice Carter scored 26 points to lead the Knights, and teammate Pete Mickeal was named the tournament MVP as Kansas City made it a clean sweep of the last two-plus months of the season.

Tyson Wheeler's 26 points paced the Surf, while former NBA'er Oliver Miller scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but neither was enough to keep the Knights from winning their 24th consecutive game.

Southern California, the last team to beat the Knights (back on February 2), led 25-24 after one quarter, but the Knights regrouped and led 62-59 at the break.

The Surf grabbed the lead at the end of three, 85-82, but down the stretch, the Knights pulled away to beat Southern California for the seventh consecutive time.


2 For the Show

LAS VEGAS (April 12, 2002) - One year to the day after a disappointing and controversial loss in the ABA semifinals, the Kansas City Knights get a chance to redeem themselves tonight when they play the Southern California Surf at 7:30pm MT at Cox Pavillion for the second ABA championship.

The Knights won their 23rd consecutive game Thursday night, coming back from ten points down to defeat the Las Vegas Slam 110-101 behind Rex Walters' perfect shooting night.

Walters went 6-for-6 from the floor, including 5-for-5 on three-pointers, and scored 10 points in 14 first-half minutes as Kansas City rallied to lead 64-56 at halftime.

Maurice Carter led the Knights with 22 points, as Kansas City put six players in double figures.

Gerald Paddio led the Slam with 30 points, but it was the loss of Cedric Ceballos (18 points in 18 minutes) to a first-half knee injury that spelled the death of Las Vegas' inside game, and, eventually, their season.

The Surf, who finished second to the Knights in the regular-season standings, got 23 points from Brandon Williams and Tyson Wheeler added 15 as Southern California beat a determined but outmanned Phoenix Eclipse squad 93-90 in the other semifinal.

Kevin Simmons had 21 points and Horacio Llamas 20 for Phoenix, but the Eclipse, reduced to seven players in another one of the ABA's mysteries, couldn't keep up with the Surf.

The Knights' excellent fan website, knightsfans.com, will have continuing coverage of tonight's championship game, which, as we all know, will not be televised.

The Surf were the last team to beat the Knights, 122-120 in Anaheim on February 2nd, but since then Kansas City has beaten Southern California six consecutive times. Half of those games were decided by 6 points or fewer (including two overtime games), but the Knights won the other three by 10, 11, and 27 points.

Look for Kansas City to put the cap on a stellar season with a hard-fought, close win tonight to lift the trophy that eluded them a year ago. [MORE...]


Semifinals Set

LAS VEGAS (April 11, 2002) - The Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas will be the site for tonight's semifinals of the second ABA Tournament.

The Southern California Surf and Phoenix Eclipse will meet in the first semifinal at 6pm MT. The teams split their ten meetings this season, but the Surf won twice in the final week to hold off the Eclipse's run at second place in the standings.

In what promises to be perhaps the most entertaining game of the tournament, look for the Surf to prevail and move into Friday's final.

Kansas City, riding a 22-game winning streak, plays homestanding Las Vegas in the second semifinal at 8:00pm MT.

The Knights went 3-0 against the Slam during the regular season. Look for Reggie Theus' bunch to make a valiant attempt, but to fall short as the Kansas City machine rolls into the final.


Surf Washes Out Cats
By Steven Herbert

ANAHEIM, CA (April 10, 2002) - The Southern California Surf scored 21 unanswered points to end the first half and start the second in a 124-111 victory over the Kentucky ProCats in front of 1,122 fans in an American Basketball Association quarterfinal playoff game Wednesday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.

With the Surf trailing 55-53, Fred Vinson's 3-point basket began a 9-0 run to close the first half, giving it a 62-55 halftime lead.

Brandon Williams, Juaquin Hawkins, Chris Morris scored to open the second half for Southern California, increasing its lead to 68-55. Rahsaan Smith followed with a basket during a 3-D situation. Hawkins followed with a free throw and Tyson Wheeler closed the run with a basket, putting the Surf ahead 74-55. It led by at least 11 the remainder of the game. [MORE...]


Paddio Leads Slam Over Legends
By Steven Herbert

ANAHEIM, CA (April 10, 2002) - The Las Vegas Slam broke out to a 16-point lead after one quarter and defeated the Indiana Legends, 115-94, Wednesday in an American Basketball Association quarterfinal playoff game at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Gerald Paddio scored 32 points, making all six of his 3-point shots, and Cedric Ceballos 20, making all four of his 3-point shots, for Las Vegas.

The victory advances the Slam into Thursday's semifinals at the Cox Pavilion at Las Vegas against Kansas City, which received a first-round bye after compiling a league-best 32-5 record during the regular season. The Knights concluded regular-season play by winning their final 22 games.[MORE...]


Phoenix Rises, Beats Detroit
By Steven Herbert

ANAHEIM, CA (April 10, 2002) - The Phoenix Eclipse defeated the Detroit Dogs, 112-97, Wednesday in an American Basketball Association quarterfinal playoff game at the Anaheim Convention Center, with guard Lelan McDougal scoring a game-high 35 points for the Eclipse.

Forward Jamel Thomas had 29 points and a game-high equaling 12 rebounds for the Eclipse, which advances to Thursday's semifinals at the Cox Pavilion at Las Vegas against the winner of the Kentucky-Southern California quarterfinal Wednesday night.

Guard DuJuan Wheat had 25 points and center William Eley 20 for Detroit.[MORE...]


Better In the Red Than Dead

The prospect of investing in an ABA expansion franchise is more appealing than death, a totally unscientific web poll on almostbasketball shows.

In a bit of a surprise, nearly half of those surveyed (45%) said they would invest in a new ABA team, outdistancing "a slow, painful death" (40%), and "being born without a face" (15%).

One reader, left a comment on the poll that read, "You are a disgrace. Don't you know people have been born without a face and others have died a painful death. Give up Fernandez. This is not funny, nor cute!"

If, as believed, the commenter was ABA CEO Joe Newman, it is comforting to know that Mr. Newman has no problem with failing to pay players, employees, and outstanding bills, "postponing" games with no notice or explanation to fans, and promising non-existant television deals, but that at least he draws the line at making fun of the deceased and the faceless.

Who Do We Play?

ANAHEIM, CA (April 8, 2002) - There seems to be no lack of confusion surrounding the ABA Tournament, which begins Wednesday at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The league's original press release, which had Southern California playing Indiana, Phoenix playing Detroit, and Kentucky playing Las Vegas, has now been changed on the official league site to remove references to the matchups.

Reports out of Anaheim, and the summary of Sunday's Surf/Legends game say Southern California will play Kentucky in the quarterfinals, with Indiana playing Las Vegas.

Is is any wonder no one takes the ABA seriously?


Surf Ready to Roll

ANAHEIM, CA (April 7, 2002) - The Southern California Surf is cresting at just the right time.

Led by 24 points from Fred Vinson and 20 from newcomer Chris Morris, the Surf finished their season with their third straight win, 128-122 over the Indiana Legends Sunday afternoon at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Indiana, which has lost seven straight, led 98-94 going into the fourth quarter, but the Surf (24-14) outscored the Legends 34-24 in the final 12 minutes for the win, their fifth without a loss this season against Indiana. Southern California may be the only team that can hope to defeat the Kansas City Knights, with the Surf having signed NBA veterans like Chris Morris and Oliver Miller in the last week in an attempt to steal the title.

Sunday's game was apparently the final one of the regular season. Las Vegas was to play at Kentucky Sunday, but apparently did not.

Saturday night, the Surf clinched second place by beating third-place Phoenix 105-96 behind Fred Vinson's 30 points. Saturday night's other game saw Detroit top Las Vegas 122-112, clinching fourth place for the Dogs and last place for the Slam.


Knights Unstoppable

LAS VEGAS (April 4, 2002) - In the city that is the symbol of gambling, the Kansas City Knights proved again Thursday night why they are the only sure thing in the ABA.

By beating the Las Vegas Slam 116-99, the Knights won their 22nd straight game and improved their record to 32-5.


Surf Tunes up for Playoffs

ANAHEIM (April 4, 2002) - Fred Vinson scored 20 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Southern California Surf to a 131-106 win over the Detroit Dogs Thursday night in front of 1,542 fans at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Surf continues to make moves in advance of next week's ABA Tournament, signing Chris Morris, Anthony Evans and Kyle Crawford this week. Evans scored 16 points Thursday.


Knights Turn 21, Celebrate with a Drink

KANSAS CITY (April 3, 2002) - The Kansas City Knights made it a perfect 20-0 at home and 21 consecutive wins Wednesday night, topping the Kentucky Pro Cats 101-90 at Kemper Arena behind Pete Mickeal's 28 points.

The Knights, who are the top seed going into next week's ABA Tournament, finish their regular season tonight in Las Vegas.


Slam on a Roll

LAS VEGAS (April 2, 2002) - Cedric Ceballos scored 34 points to lead the Las Vegas Slam to their fourth straight home win, 119-109 over the Indiana Legends Tuesday night at Cox Pavillion.

The Slam, who inherited the Chicago Skyliners' 0-7 record when they took the floor for the first time in February, have gone 7-11 since then and could be a darkhorse candidate to pull an upset in the upcoming ABA tournament.


Another Bad April

ANAHEIM, CA (April 2, 2002) - The ABA will cut its season short for the second straight season and proceed directly to a single-elimination tournament April 10-12 in Anaheim and Las Vegas, according to a release posted Tuesday morning on the official ABA website.

The season, which was to have ended on April 14, will apparently expire a week early, and all seven teams will advance to the tournament. The teams seeded 2-7 will play quarterfinals in Anaheim on Wednesday the 10th, with regular-season champion Kansas City joining the winners in the semifinals on Thursday the 11th at Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas. The championship game, will be played on Friday night, April 12.

The Knights, the league's premier team, hosted last year's finals, and Kemper Arena is booked for games involving the Major Indoor Soccer League's Kansas City Comets on April 12th and 13th.

The Surf were the last team to beat the Knights, at the ACC back on February 2nd. Since then, Kansas City has run off 20 straight wins, including six in a row over Southern California.

The move means the final 12 games on the ABA schedule will be cancelled, this time without the transparent excuse that the season would be cut short to put the playoffs on TV, but with typical Joe Newman spin.

The ABA release stated: "According to Joe Newman, ABA CEO, the format of the tournament and the dates were determined by two major considerations including venue availability and extraordinary sponsorship opportunities in both cities. Newman was quoted, 'Our decision to schedule the tournament this way was an easy one to make. The standings were already determined and the corporate and community support provided based on playing these dates was too good to pass. Our team owners made the schedule adjustments necessary to accomodate these opportunities.'"

Meanwhile, the Detroit Dogs, who won last year's tournament, beat the Surf 100-94 Monday night to move into fourth place in the league standings.

Never known for its math or organizational skills, the ABA has apparently drawn the quarterfinal matchups out of a hat, and will have Southern California (in second place at the moment) play Indiana (currently in sixth), Phoenix (third) play Detroit (fourth), and Kentucky (fifth) play Las Vegas (seventh). Since a tournament devised by anyone with more than a fourth-grade education would have the first place team earn a bye, the second-place team play the seventh-place team, the third-place team play the sixth-place team, and the fourth and fifth-place teams play, your guess is as good as anyone's how the semifinal matchups will be determined.

Legends go AWOL

INDIANAPOLIS (March 31, 2002) - Las Vegas' Cedric Ceballos didn't score 27 points, and Indiana didn't stage a late rally that just fell short as the Slam and Legends didn't play Sunday at Arlington High School.

In what was likely more a case of the team on its deathbed than an early April Fool's Day joke, the Legends apparently abandoned their scheduled Easter Sunday home game against Las Vegas without notifying their fans, the school, or anyone else.

Fans who arrived at the high school prior to the scheduled 2:00pm tipoff found no teams, no players, and no answers.

The no-game came a day after the Legends and Dogs apparently did not play in Detroit, putting Indiana and Detroit in the running for Mystery Franchise of the Year.


Knights to Play All-Stars?

KANSAS CITY (April 3, 2002) - The Kansas City Knights will play at home on Sunday, April 14, as originally scheduled before the ABA Tournament scrubbed the last week of the season, but they will apparently play the ABA All-Stars, according to an article in Wednesday's Kansas City Star.


Knights Cruise to Twentieth Straight

CRESTVIEW HILLS, KY (March 31, 2002) - The Kansas City Knights have completed nearly two straight months without a loss after a 129-105 hammering of the Kentucky Pro Cats in front of a typical Pro Cat crowd of 50 people who mistakenly wandered in off the street Sunday night at the Thomas More Convocation Center.

The win, Kansas City's twentieth straight, came thanks to 25 points by Pete Mickeal and 20 each from Rick Hughes and Nick Bradford.

David Shelton's 22 points led the Pro Cats.


Las Vegas Slams Surf

LAS VEGAS (March 30, 2002) - Cedric Ceballos scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his first game back from a knee injury, and Gerald Paddio added 25 points as the Las Vegas Slam downed the Southern California Surf 120-108 in front of 462 fans at Cox Pavillion Saturday night.

Six Las Vegas players scored in double figures to lead the Slam to their third home victory in a row.

Fred Vinson's 29 points led the Surf, and the former Georgia Tech star pumped in seven three-pointers.


Surf Washes Phoenix Away

ANAHEIM (March 29, 2002) - Corey Benjamin poured in 42 points, and the Southern California Surf got more than 20 points from three other players in a 140-115 win over the Phoenix Eclipse Friday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Benjamin was on fire, hitting 17 of his 33 shots and all 7 of his free throws in just 31 minutes. Juaquin Hawkins (23), Fred Vinson (22) and Brandon Wiliams (20) also cracked the 20-point barrier.

Jamel Thomas led the Eclipse with 33 in the losing effort.


Ho, Hum...Knights Win Again

DETROIT (March 29, 2002) - The Kansas City Knights put seven players in double figures and outscored the Detroit Dogs 125-109 Friday night at some lame Community College to win their 19th consecutive game.

It was Pete Mickeal's turn to lead the Knights in scoring with 32 points as Kansas City coasted in the second half after opening a 22-point halftime lead.

The Knights outrebounded the Dogs 53-41, including 12 caroms by Mickeal and 11 by Rick Hughes.

Carlos Williams led the Dogs with 24 points.