Continental Basketball Association - History - 1999–2001


In 1999, the CBA's teams were purchased by an investment group led by former NBA star Isiah Thomas. The combined-ownership plan was unsuccessful and by 2001, the CBA had declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. Several of its teams briefly joined the now-defunct International Basketball League.

Below is a timeline of Thomas' ownership of the CBA:

  • August 3, 1999: Former NBA star Isiah Thomas purchases the CBA (the entire league including all the teams and its marketing entity, CBA Properties) for $10 million. He says that the league will now operate as a single-owner entity, and the CBA will continue to be the official developmental league of the NBA.
  • October 7, 1999: Sale of the CBA to Thomas is finalized. Thomas pays $5 million up front, agreeing to make four additional payments to the CBA's former team owners for the remainder of the debt.
  • October 24, 1999: He announces salary cuts in the CBA. The average salary of $1,500 per week will be reduced to $1,100, with rookies getting $800. Thomas' reasoning is that by reducing the number of veterans in the league, there will be more young players available for NBA teams.
  • January 18, 2000: For the first time in three years the CBA holds an all-star game, hosted by the Sioux Falls SkyForce. The game also features an all-rookie game, featuring the CBA's top 16 rookies.
  • March 2000: The NBA offers Thomas $11 million plus a percentage of the profits for the CBA. Thomas chooses not to sell. "The NBA made an offer that wasn't what Isiah expected," said Brendan Suhr, former coach and co-owner of the CBA's Grand Rapids Hoops, "so he decided not to sell the league at that time."
  • May 2000: A CBA all-star team travels to China for a three-game series.
  • June 28, 2000: Thomas is offered the head coaching job of the NBA's Indiana Pacers. Since NBA rules forbid a coach from owning his own league (as it would be a conflict of interest; he could sign the minor league's best players to his NBA team, for example), Thomas is obliged to sell the CBA. On this day, Thomas signs a letter of intent to sell the CBA to the NBA Players' Union.
  • Summer 2000: After 20 years of using the CBA as its developmental league, the NBA announces it will form its own minor-league feeder system, creating the National Basketball Development League (later the NBA Development League). The CBA will no longer be the NBA's official developmental league following the end of the 2001 season.
  • October 2, 2000: Thomas (now unable to sell his ownership in the CBA), places the league into a blind trust and accepts the head coaching job for the Pacers. With the league in a blind trust there are no funds available to pay players, to buy plane tickets for road games, or to handle day-to-day operations.
  • February 8, 2001: The CBA suspends play and folds. The blind trust which hopes to find a new owner for the league abandons its efforts, and the league has over $2 million in debts. The teams are offered back to their original owners for a $1 simple consideration, and several owners accept the offer. Many more refuse, and their clubs go under.
  • February 24, 2001: The CBA declares bankruptcy. Five former CBA team owners repurchase their franchises and join the rival International Basketball League (IBL) to finish the season. Other owners choose to allow their franchises to fail, rather than incur debts that were not theirs originally.
  • Summer 2001: The IBL folds.
  • November 2001: The CBA reorganizes for the 2001-02 season as CBA franchises in Rockford, Gary, Grand Rapids and Sioux Falls merge with the smaller International Basketball Association (IBA), which has franchises in Bismarck (Dakota Wizards), Fargo (Fargo-Moorhead Beez) and Saskatoon (Saskatchewan Hawks). The Flint (Michigan) Fuze join as an expansion team.

Read more about this topic:  Continental Basketball Association, History

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