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Where the stars come out to play


All Star Game Needs a Full Court "Press"

Alex J. Walling
The Daily News
By Alex J.Walling

The ABA (American Basketball Association) came to Halifax this weekend. The all-star game and the talent level of the players were very good but it could have been so much better had Halifax equipped themselves with people who know how to deal with the media.

Sure, I liked that I saw this weekend from the ABA. To bad it wasn’t promoted the right way.  Proper promotion would have meant a much higher attendance.

Here’s the great, good, bad and ugly of this ABA experiment.

The Great:   Joe Newman the CEO of the ABA. He’s their best asset.  He’ll talk about the success and failures of his league.  It isn’t all rosy but I found him a straight shooter. I got more out of him in one hour than in two months from the Halifax group.  This man has been around basketball, teams folding and teams succeeding and has witnessed the launch of many successful franchises.  Surely, the people who want this team for Halifax could have tapped into his wealth of knowledge.   

Joe Newman should have been here from the first day that we heard of the fledging Halifax ‘could have a team in the ABA’.  He would have brought instant credibility and helped sell the game, the ABA and maybe the All-Star game.  Instead we got a bunch of amateurs who had no knowledge in dealing with the media and that inexperience, in my opinion cost them greatly.

The Good:   The all-star game, the players, the skill events.   There is no doubt some of these guys can play basketball. And, why not?  We hear about the top basketball league in the world in the NBA.  But the fact is there are so many good if not great basketball players who simply can’t make the numbers game of the NBA and they are available to a league like the ABA.

Look at all the colleges that play the sport. Every year hundreds if not thousands of college kids, many who play in the NCAA division one bracket, become available but don’t make the pros.

Let’s not forget, b-ball unlike the NFL or NHL has a very small roster. Often times the second round NBA draft choice doesn’t make it.  That leaves many good people and lots of those are playing in the ABA.  The different skill events (3-point shooting, the dunk contest, etc) on Saturday night was certainly entertaining.

The Bad:   The Halifax group who put on this event and I don’t included majority owner, Andre Levingston. He didn’t come out of hiding until last week.  From the beginning those in charge have blown it. Why Levingston became such a ‘mysterious’ commodity is not known.  We were told that this Halifax group wanted to put up Jad Cynagoric a well known high school and college player as the face of the team.  Bad move, she is pretty but, she along with the other person who handled the Halifax franchise, to be kind, have very little experience in dealing with this kind of media.  

The Ugly:     The failure of this group in dealing with the media has hurt them.  Instead of selling the ABA their unique brand of the game, the 3-d play, the 13th man, etc, etc, they’ve made key mistakes and that took away from their message. They’ve been out of their league media wise since their first announcement on September 18, 2006.

Those involved (Jad Cynagoric and Paul Riley) may have played the game but being an amateur athlete and now trying to sell a business to a public and asking for their dollars ($upport) is something else.

They should have hired a P.R. firm or marketing person. That would have helped them so much.

In fact, both of them got more defensive than any other group that I have covered and I’ve been at this a few years starting in 1965.

Their total lack of media relation skills hurt this weekend’s gate.

From the opening bell those involved in dealing with us blew it.  At the first media conference (Sept 18th) they refused to answer questions, referred us at least 5-6 times to the ABA web site to the point I suggested he bring in the ‘web-master’ so we can get some questions answered.   It went downhill from there.

At that initial meeting I asked if this group had a ‘press release’. The answer was ‘we sent you one’.  What we had was the ‘invitation’ to the media conference. They didn’t know the difference between an invitation and a ‘media release’ or handout which usually follows the press conference outlining the announcement. Angela Hill of the Metro centre could have helped them but I bet they were too proud or arrogant to ask. It ranks as one of the worst press conferences I’ve ever attended.  Certainly the worst this century.

This group’s second media attempt was actually worst than the first, if that’s possible.  They called a media affair (Nov. 27) to ‘announce the name of the team’?  Guess what? There was no announcement. Nada, nyet, zilch.  Many TV cameramen were not pleased.

Then, when they finally made their ‘name the team’ splash there was no media conference, no unveiling!  Amazing.   And they want your money, your support!

This is not high school or minor ball; these guys want to be in the big leagues in so far as this city is concerned. They want to be like the Mooseheads, former AHL teams, and the Windjammers.

I wouldn’t have them on the Gong Show.

They made a big deal that the ABA game was to be on the Score, shown across Canada and it would be a sell out.  2500 fans after two months of promotion isn’t a sell out. In fact if that is all they can generate after months of ‘talking it up’ I wonder what is in store this fall.

And what happened to the game on National TV? It didn’t happen.

Did they tell the media about the game being cancelled? No, they tried to pull an Ernie Fage and when confronted, I got one of the weakest excuses ever which was: “we went after a global audience by podcasting it”   I tried to download the podcast and gave up after having to answer a million questions to get it.

I wonder how many people watched the podcast, let’s say in Sri Lanka, or Moscow and how will that be converted into selling tickets for the Rainmen?

This past Friday they held a media session with the ABA players and some people from the league including CEO Newman.  The announcement read that the event was to be hosted by Farley Flex of Canadian Idol.

Guess who didn’t show up?

I can live with Farley not showing up but it would have been nice to have the moderator (Riley) acknowledge the fact he was not there. I mean if it’s a big deal that he is coming to the event, and these guys take the time to feature him on the media release, then he is worth a mention, right?

In fact a first for me took place at that media conference.  I asked Halifax Rainmen majority owner Levingston who was at the head table, why the mystery over his involvement as the majority owner.

Now I was maybe 5-6 feet away from the man in a direct line of sight.  Before he got a chance to answer the question in came, P.R. want to be, Riley, who blurted a bunch of things in regards to his involvement and Jad’s role etc, etc.

was a rude, ignorant and totally unprofessional act by Riley to interrupt the majority owner.  I let Riley ramble on, and re-asked the question to Levingston, who had no problem with it.
I have never been at a media question and ask a person a direct question and had someone else cut in.

Again, Riley’s answer was defensive.  He also pointed out that he doesn’t believe in wars with the media saying to the effect ‘they buy ink by the barrel and we don’t want to fight them.’  All he’s done is, at least to some of us, is lose the focus on what his message is supposed to be. Also his attempts to maneuver the media or picks conflicts are pathetic.

He made himself look foolish, amateurish and bush league in that media session. In fact the CEO even commented on the fact that his answer(s) was defensive.

I have no problem with any media person putting a ‘spin’ on things.  Spins are viewpoints as seen through a different set of eyes.  Spin is different from throwing ridiculous facts and hoping to get away with it.

Two facts come to mind.  Riley stated to the effect that “we know that Halifax is a walk up town and 80% of the sales are done in this fashion.”

Excuse me, a great line and it suited Halifax cause because ticket sales were very slow and they would wish for an 80% walk up but where are the facts?  

You mean to tell me that 80% of the Moosehead crowd is walk up?  Don’t think so.

You mean 80% of the Dolly Parton and George Jones concerts that I saw in the last 14 months were 80% walk up.   Did the Junos last spring have an 80% walk up?  The answers are no, no, no and again, no.

No way. It was a stupid comment without facts.

Both Riley and Cynagoric were defensive in the radio sports open line shows that they appeared on and in the three press conferences that I took in.

Conclusion:  They get an E for effort but a bigger “E” for execution which was awful and that is unfortunate because the ABA has some unique features which should have been sold and Newman could have sold them had be been introduced to us on day one.

Let these Rainmen (please change that name!) look at what the Halifax Windjammers did and learn from the only other pro b-ball team to come here.

Without any testing, without any all-star game and without anyone ever hearing of that league (World Basketball league), the Jammers drew a near sell out on their first night (9700 fans).  When the WBL did reward the Jammers their all-star game on July 10, 1991 was a sell out.

When this bunch that can’t promote straight, figures out how the Jammers did it they will be on the track to doing it right.

It can and has been done.  But they need help, lots of help in the media/pr department.



Indianapolis, IN. On behalf of the ABA, I would like to thank the fans, the Mayor of Halifax the press and media, , the sponsors, the venue, and the hosts of the ABA All-Star Weekend for the warm reception and remarkable hospitality. When we made the decision to go to Halifax, we did not know what to expect. It was a glorious weekend from start to finish and it certainly reinforced our decision to go there. The ABA All-Star Weekend was a rousing success from every perspective. We have no doubt that the expansion Halifax Rainmen will be well-received next season. Halifax is a truly wonderful city. And we thank you so much. The coverage of the event by the Halifax Daily News, The Chronicle Herald and the TV and radio stations was amazing. A tremendous group of writers and reporters who captured and heart and soul of the ABA and brought it in living color to the people of Halifax - and many thousands responded by attending the two day event.

And to the players and coaches who traveled many hours to go there - some through difficult weather - thank you also for putting on a tremendous show for the fans. You showed the ABA at its very best with an exciting, competitive game - and by your demeanor during the entire weekend, including taking the time to visit schools, meet with the fans and sign autographs, and showing true sportsmanship. We are very proud of you. The weekend was a slam dunk. Joe Newman, ABA CEO


Weekend shows ABA potentialABA debut fuels pro ball in Halifax print this article
ABA All-Star weekend gives fans something to look forward to in Halifax Rainmen

Philip Croucher
The Daily News

I wouldn't call it a slam dunk, as did Paul Riley of the Halifax Rainmen.

That's exaggerated, given the number of empty seats.

But the American Basketball Association All-Star weekend was a good show, of which the Rainmen can definitely take advantage.

Despite attracting below targeted audience numbers (about 5,500 for the two days, which was a few thousand short of their initial target), the ABA showcased a high-quality brand of basketball that could find success here.

The players are good, and watching them on the Metro Centre floor got me excited about the prospect of professional basketball returning to Halifax.

Don't count on all-star lineups like this every time an ABA team visits Halifax, but know you'll see good players play.

The All-Star game proved that. It should also mean there will be at least one or two very talented players wearing Rainmen colours next season.

That's important.

What's also important was the fun show the Rainmen delivered to their fans.

Quality entertainment

There were dancers during the All-Star game. There were giveaways. There was loud music. There were people dunking basketballs off trampolines.

All the things that help make basketball a fun event were there to see.

There were, of course, some kinks. For example, the program should have had numbers next to the players' names so you know who is who on the court. These aren't household names, by any means.

But for the most part, everything appeared professionally done.

It's why, by all accounts, most left the Metro Centre happy. That's important, too.

The Rainmen made a lot of marketing mistakes leading into the ABA weekend, and it showed by the amount of empty seats.

But with this strong product, and a decent fan base from which to work from, there is room for growth.

There is also momentum on their side.

So what now? The Rainmen certainly can't sit back and rest on their success.

With tip off for their first season 10 months away, the Rainmen need to really push hard toward that inaugural campaign.

That means staying in the news, and keeping their name and logo present in the city.

Take out ads on billboards showing off the Rainmen logo. Do it today. Don't wait. How about a countdown to the start of the season?

Also, start selling Rainmen T-shirts and jerseys in local stores. Brand recognition is critical.

As well, get a lease deal complete with the Metro Centre so you can start selling season tickets. People won't buy tickets if they don't know where you're playing.

And finally, name a general manager, if not a head coach soon, so we can know who's making player decisions with this team.

Basically, act like a professional team and push the product hard. You'll reap the rewards.

Going away for a few months now without a whisper would be disastrous. The Rainmen finally have something good going for them. They can't let it slip away.
Fan-tastic:  The Halifax Rainmen Weather Girls dance in a shower of balloons at the ABA All-Star game yesterday. (Photo: Ryan Taplin)
Fan-tastic: The Halifax Rainmen Weather Girls dance in a shower of balloons at the ABA All-Star game yesterday. (Photo: Ryan Taplin)
ABA weekend a slam dunk: fans print this article

The Daily News

There were more empty seats than actual fans at the Halifax Metro Centre for yesterday's American Basketball Association All-Star game - nobody can deny that.

So how can Paul Riley, business manager for the weekend and for the Halifax Rainmen, which will begin in play in the ABA in November, call the game and Saturday's skills competition a "slam dunk"?

Easy. I took a walk around the Metro Centre, asking people what they thought of the show, and queried whether they'd return when our beloved Rainmen hit the court.

Majority rules

Eighteen out of 20 people I surveyed said they liked what they saw. I tended to agree with them.

If that statistic held up over the entire crowd of about 2,500, the Halifax entry could have a built-in fan base of at least 2,000 for opening night.

Not bad, if you ask me. Especially when there are teams in this league getting by playing in middle-school gymnasiums.

The younger fans I asked loved it. My only two negative responses came from older males, one of whom admitted the event seemed aimed at a younger, family audience.

Still, there seemed to be something for everyone. A break-dancing mascot impressed the kids. A four-man trampoline dunking tandem, known as Project Dunk, was brought in from Kitchener, Ont., nearly stole the show at halftime yesterday, making me wish the half would actually last longer.

The Weather Girls dancers impressed pretty much every guy with a pulse, and as for the pyrotechnics before and after the game - it's been my experience that fireworks thrill everyone at any time, for reasons I've never completely understood.

So, how was the on-court action, you ask?

Good, I suppose. There were some nifty dunks, some sharp-shooting, and some sloppy, unstructured moments that could either be chalked up to the league's free-flowing style of play or the teammates' unfamiliarity with each other.

I asked Sackville native Basil Habib, member of the Saint Mary's Huskies, what he thought with his more experienced hoops-watching eye.

"It's pretty good," Habib said. "It's fun to watch, pretty intense basketball, actually, for an all-star game. We love the dancing girls, too."

Habib and his pals agreed they'd check out the Rainmen in the fall. They also thought a few AUS guys like Neil MacDonald (St. Francis Xavier), or Paul Blake (Cape Breton) could probably suit up in the ABA.

They will come

Nathan Simon, a 20-year-old student from Dartmouth, believed the weekend made the kind of impression that would make fans want to see their team, even if few knew much about the players or the league beforehand.

So it's easy to see why Riley was "elated" with the weekend. The crowd was a little smaller yesterday than Saturday's approximate total of 3,000, but ticket-holders also got to see a concert and a slam-dunk competition on that night, a gimmick that is almost guaranteed to attract a crowd.

A fuller building would've meant more money and more eyes on the product, but a good show ensured the fans that did show up didn't leave feeling cheated.

So nice job, Halifax Rainmen.

It's like we always say around these parts (at least those of us who drink Keith's) - those who liked it, liked it alot.


By CHRIS COCHRANE Sports Columnist

THERE WAS plenty more good than bad about the American Basketball Association’s all-star weekend at the Halifax Metro Centre.

Among the positives was a high calibre of basketball, featuring very athletic players who brought especially strong offensive skills. And just as impressive was the enthusiasm of the crowds who quickly bought into the weekend party atmosphere that’s clearly a part of the ABA entertainment package.

Saturday night’s all-star activities were well-received. It wasn’t simply the slam-dunk and three-point shooting displays that pumped up the crowd. It was the fun environment — the mascot, the music, the cheerleaders and the attitude of the players — that reminded many this is something that has worked in Halifax before and can work here again.

The all-star game itself continued on that same theme of giving fans what they most want to see — offence, offence, offence. The ABA rules are designed for a high-tempo, offensively charged game that should keep crowds involved. And though these guys may be a notch below NBA quality, they play the game at a very high level.

On the negative side, the attendance was lower than expected, certainly lower than organizers had hoped. Attendance appeared to be in the 2,500 range for Saturday’s events and a little less for Sunday’s game. The potential was there for much larger gates had the hosts done a more creative job of filling seats for the weekend.

Though this may be the only large negative, it’s a crucial one. A better understanding of the local market will be a huge step forward for the franchise.

It’s impossible not to hear comparisons between the Rainmen and the Halifax Windjammer team that was so popular here at one time.

The key point to remember about any such comparison is that the Windjammers didn’t fail in Halifax; the league failed around the team.

That same fate won’t be likely when the Rainmen start ABA play in the fall. The Rainmen will enjoy the luxury of being part of a monolithic minor basketball entity featuring more than 50 teams spread across North America, with another 20 or so expected to expand the ranks next season. Each year this league will lose and gain a few teams, but with low franchise fees and small payrolls, it should be around for a long time.

As a result of the league’s size, the stronger franchises can concentrate more on their own market without worrying about the overall health of the league. In a city like Halifax, where many basketball fans are eager to see the pro game return, that’s a positive sign.

Where do the Rainmen go from here?

Well, the promotion machine can’t afford to go quiet until next fall. The next goal has to be jumping on the positives from all-star weekend and pushing the team into a higher prominence in the marketplace. Should the Rainmen really want another big promotional splash, why not lure a regular-season game to Halifax from another ABA site as a means to expose local fans to the real ABA product?

The Rainmen got a giant push on the weekend. Time will tell whether they can properly exploit that momentum. But there’s no doubt the franchise looks like a better fit for this market today than it did a week ago.

Chris Cochrane is a columnist with The Chronicle Herald Sports.

ABA officials thrilled by all-star game reception
West’s Knight garners MVP award
By CHAD LUCAS Sports Reporter

The West won the battle on the basketball court at the ABA All-Star Game.

But everyone from the players to the ABA chairman seemed convinced that Halifax won the bigger war.

Game MVP Billy Knight had 25 points to lead the West to a 138-126 victory at the Metro Centre, the final event in a busy weekend that was a litmus test of sorts for the Halifax Rainmen franchise slated to join the ABA in November.

ABA co-founder and chairman Joe Newman was thrilled with the reception that the league received throughout the weekend.

"We are extremely proud and pleased to be able to play here next year," Newman told a crowd of about 2,500 after the game. "We’re looking forward to a very, very exciting season in Halifax."

Attendance might have been slightly below what Rainmen owners were looking for – official numbers weren’t released, but the crowd seemed to be around 4,500 to 5,000 for Sunday’s game and Saturday’s dunk and three-point contests combined. Halifax business manager Paul Riley had previously said the team was hoping for a total crowd of 6,000.

But Rainmen majority owner Andre Levingston was nothing but enthusiastic after the game.

"Everybody wishes they could sell out, of course, that’s the business end of it. But we’re really excited with the turnout," said the Toronto-based businessman. "I’m not really dwelling on the attendance.

"The whole weekend we said, ‘We’re putting on a Broadway show for the city of Halifax.’ I think we did that in a great way, and everybody’s excited about it."

The Halifax group made sure to give fans a taste of what’s to come. They dished out hundreds of Rainmen T-shirts over the weekend and introduced the team’s mascot, Thunder, and a cheerleading squad — the Weather Girls, clad in dark blue track pants and white stomach-baring tank tops.

And the players put on an entertaining display of the ABA’s run-and-gun style of play. The teams combined for a whopping 213 shots in the 48-minute game.

The West also made good use of the league’s 3-D rule, which rewards an extra point if teams score after forcing a turnover in the backcourt. During one stretch the West squad scored on three 3-D plays in a row to pull away in the fourth quarter.

Saturday night’s dunk champion Donny Beacham added 22 points for the West, while Rob Sanders had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the East.

"It was a really exciting game," said Drew Washington, who had 18 points and some highlight-reel dunks for the East. "It’s too bad we lost, but it’s all for fun, all for the fans."

Washington said he and the other players felt like royalty in Halifax.

"It was magnificent," said the Maryland Nighthawks player. "Everywhere we went, (fans) talked to us, knew who we were, knew what we were about. They were nothing but supportive.

"Halifax is going to have a pretty good team next year because it’s a great fan base and a great home."

West coach Bob Hoffman said he was impressed with the Halifax crowd.

"I was sitting (in the stands) during the college game (Memorial vs. Saint Mary’s), and people were talking about good defence. You can tell it’s a basketball community," said Hoffman, coach of the top-ranked Arkansas Aeros.

"This will be a great place. I think location’s a big deal and the support of a city is a bigger deal, and it seems like you guys are quite a few steps headed in the right direction."

The ABA seems to be banking on the success of the Halifax franchise. The sprawling 57-team league, which has teams across the U.S. and even in Mexico, considers Canada the next frontier.

Montreal and Quebec City have teams in the league this year, and Mississauga is set to join Halifax in the fall.

Newman said the league will subsidize travel costs to bring top teams into Halifax, not just eastern competition.

"We’re so enthusiastic," he said. "(We want to) make sure we get the very best teams to come to Halifax, because Halifax deserves no less than the best that the ABA can offer."

Levingston said he knows the hard work now begins to make the Rainmen a success. The team may have a mascot and cheerleaders but they don’t have a coach, players, or a home venue.

"We have to start evaluating and looking at some more talent to make sure we put a good product on the floor for November," he said.

( clucas@herald.ca)

East’s Rob Sanders, right, knocks away a pass intended for West’s Curtis Haywood, during the ABA all-star game on Sunday at Metro Centre. (Tim Krochak / Staff)

East’s Rob Sanders, right, goes airborne as he drives to the hoop against West’s Donnie Beacham, during the American Basketball Association’s all -star game on Sunday at the Metro Centre. (Tim Krochak / Staff)


WEST 138 - EAST 127

 - The Bellingham Slam's Mike Parker contributed seven points and seven rebounds as the West defeated the East, 138-123, at the 2007 ABA All Star Game on Sunday in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Parker, who was voted by the Slam's fans to represent the team, also collected three assists and a blocked shot in 19 minutes of play, and saw his first ever action in an All-Star game after participating in the All-Star  dunk contest in Miami last season.

Both teams played an up-tempo style in a game which the West led nearly from start to finish. Although the game did feature 16 lead changes, the East was never able to gain more than a two point advantage, the final time at 78-76 with 7:25 left to play in the third quarter. The East was able to take a one-point lead, at 102-101, with 9:14 to play in the fourth quarter on a Robert Martin jumper, but the West followed with a 15-2 run over the next two minutes to build a 12-point lead. The East was able to trim the deficit to five, at 116-111, by scoring the next three baskets, but lost any chance of a comeback as they were held scoreless for a three-minute span by the West. During that stretch, the West was able to stretch their lead to 16.

The West, which converted on eight 3-D scoring opportunities, was led by Billy Knight's 21 points, who was named the game's MVP. Donald Meacham added 20 points and eight rebounds.

Gregory Plummer scored 25 points to lead six East players in double figures.


Donny Beacham of the Texas Tycoons does a spectacular leaping dunk over a group of youngsters during the ABA All-Star slam dunk contest at the Halifax Metro Centre on Saturday. (Tim Krochak / Staff)

Donny Beacham of the Texas Tycoons takes flight as he prepares for a reverse dunk during the ABA All-Star slam dunk contest at the Halifax Metro Centre on Saturday. Beacham defeated Rob Sanders to win the competition. (Tim Krochak / Staff)


ABA takes flight
Slam dunk champion Beacham wins over Metro Centre crowd
By CHAD LUCAS Sports Reporter

If the horde of kids lined up for autographs from slam dunk champion Donny Beacham was any indication, the American Basketball Association succeeded in making a legion of new fans on Saturday night at Halifax Metro Centre.

Beacham brought the estimated crowd of 2,500 to its feet with the night’s most electrifying dunk: the Texas Tycoons forward threw the ball off the backboard, caught it while soaring over a group of six huddled children in Halifax Rainmen T-shirts and slammed it home.

Judges tossed out their numbers and let the fans pick the dunk-off winner, and a huge roar lifted Beacham over runner-up Rob Sanders.

"I’ve been in a couple of dunk contests before, and I know that the way to win is to get the crowd into it," said Beacham, who also tried having a fan throw him an alley-oop from the second row. "I figured doing that with the kids would help the crowd have a better reception for me."

Fan participation was the theme on Saturday as Halifax franchise investors pulled out all the stops to win over an audience both for today’s all-star game and for the Rainmen when they start play in November.

From bringing in celebrities like rock band Hedley and Farley Flex of Canadian Idol fame to letting kids swarm the court for autographs after the dunk contest, the night was as much about spectacle as sport.

Sanders and Beacham did their part in hyping up the crowd with a series of memorable slams.

Sanders, of the Cape Cod Frenzy, earned perfect scores through the first two rounds for a big tomahawk dunk, a reverse alley-oop and another where he tossed himself a high lob, caught the ball on one side of the rim and went up-and-under to dunk it on the other side.

"This is a blast, I’m having fun," said Sanders. "The crowd was good, it was hype, it got me hyped. That’s what it’s all about."

Beacham wasn’t announced when the slam dunk contestants were first introduced, but he instantly wowed the crowd with his first dunk, a straight-on 360 that brought people out of their seats.

The Dallas, Texas, native said he was thrilled with the response of the crowd, which he estimated was "five times" the average ABA game.

"It was a lot more than I expected," he said. "But we came here to make sure people know the ABA is a quality league, and that’s what we’re trying to do."

Earlier in the evening, Aaron Cook of the Vermont Frost Heaves won the three-point shooting contest, beating Billy Knight of Atlanta 12-9 in the final round.

Cook led each round and knocked down a high of 13 points in the semifinals.

"I just tried to stay calm," said Cook. "With the big crowd and everything it’s easy to get nervous, and when you get nervous you start missing shots."

Cook said the weekend has been a great experience for players so far.

"They’ve really been good to us out here," he said. "It’s a good arena, the fans are into it, we’ve got a lot of people supporting it. I can’t complain, I’m loving it."

There was no official attendance figure released Saturday night. Rainmen business manager Paul Riley said earlier the team is hoping to draw at least 6,000 fans for the weekend.

Halifax majority owner Andre Levingston said he was very pleased with Saturday’s turnout and crowd response.

"This is unbelievable," he said. "This is just a throwback – it’s just a lot of fun, the kids are having a good time, the parents are having a good time. I couldn’t be more excited."

The ABA all-star game is today at 2 p.m., preceded by a men’s AUBC game between Memorial and Saint Mary’s at noon.

( clucas@herald.ca)


ABA has memory of past lives print this article

The Daily News

He doesn't sport a monstrous afro, funky sideburns or wear knee-high socks, but the Hollywood Fame's Billy Knight knows some history from the original American Basketball Association of the late 1960s and mid-'70s.

"They were the thug guys, the outcast guys who weren't into structured basketball," said the 28-year-old, a six-foot-six guard/forward and former member of the UCLA Bruins. "The NBA saw that people liked the ABA more because there was more athleticism and high-flying dunks and action, but I guess the NBA had more money."

The original ABA, which ran from 1967 to '76 and included the likes of Julius Erving, George Gervin, Moses Malone, Rick Barry, Connie Hawkins, Artis Gilmore and David Thompson, initiated the three-point shot and slam dunk event. Interestingly enough, the league also went 79-76 head-to-head versus NBA competition.

Four ABA teams, the San Antonio Spurs, New York Nets, Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers, merged with the NBA in 1976.

One of the ABA league mandates is for players to get out in the community, sign autographs and interact with the fans.

Yesterday's family fest at the Metro Centre mezzanine level offered several interactive displays and T-shirt and poster giveaways.

Alexander Bakolias, 11, won a Halifax Rainmen shirt and had it signed by a number of ABA all-stars.

"It was cool to get their autographs because maybe one of them will be in the NBA one day," said Bakolias, who plays for the St. Margarets Bay Slam. "I'd like to get Rainmen tickets later this year."

ABA players visited five junior high schools and Prince Andrew High on Friday.

Halifax or Hawaii?

At one point, for a brief moment, the idea was floated to hold the ABA all-star game in Honolulu.

Minus whatever Celsius and complaining about the cold here, or pina coladas on the beach and enjoying the sights there?

"Hawaii would have been great, obviously because of the weather, but I'm excited we're here in Halifax," said Andrew Washington, 22, a six-foot-three guard for the Maryland Nighthawks.

"Weather-wise, Halifax is pretty cold, but the people are warm and friendly. We're all enjoying ourselves."

Curtis Haywood was once almost a Raptor. The six-foot-six forward, a member of the Fame, played in the NBA's Development League when he first graduated from Oklahoma City University, a small NAIA school. He was the last Raptors cut in 2001.

"Marty Blake came out to see me play and I was there for the whole pre-season, but it's all about being in the right place at the right time and having a bit of luck," said the 30-year-old Haywood, who averages 29 points and 10 rebounds for the Fame. "I've been to lots of camps and summer leagues because basketball is my life. I'm a basketball player for life.

Defence wins championships.

Offence wins all-star games.

But even a guy whose nickname is "Ballaholic" can show some defensive pride, too, can't he?

"My guy's not going to score on me at all," grinned San Diego Wildcats' six-foot-four forward Cardell Butler, a former streetballer who once passed up a New York Knicks training camp in favour of the And1 Mixtape Tour circuit. "Maybe if I'm on the bench."

Can anyone tell me what I'm doing? print this article
ABA all-star game in Halifax

The Daily News

As a boy, I always dreamed of being in a slam-dunk competition.

Unfortunately, that boy grew up to be a five-foot-nine white guy from Cape Breton. Until last night, I was sure my dream was dead.

Thank you, American Basketball Association.

The ABA is in town for its all-star weekend at the Metro Centre, although our team, the Halifax Rainmen, doesn't begin playing until November.

So when the chance arose to judge the weekend's slam-dunk competition, I jumped at it. Not as high as the actual dunkers would, but hey, I was still pretty excited.

What a show. I saw dancers cleverly named The Weather Girls after our Rainmen squad. I saw Thunder, a cool break-dancing mascot that could do a flip on a trampoline and dunk a basketball.

I even got to rub shoulders with Canadian Idol judge Farley Flexx as my fellow judge, a seat normally reserved for other Canadian royalty, such as Sass Jordan.

Farley was friendly and having fun from the start, pumping up the crowd of about 3,000 with his admirable microphone skills.

I was pumped, too.

With little more than a faint clue as to what makes one dunk better than another, I proceeded to hold up cards with sevens, eights, nines or the perfect 10, usually waiting to see how my fellow judges (Dale Williams of Reebok Canada and Mark Strong of NBA XL on Raptors TV rounded out the panel) would react to the competitors' moves.

I had one rule - if you miss both attempts (as Robert Martin of the Cape Cod Frenzy did), you get a seven.

Six dunkers strutted their stuff. We saw windmills. We saw off-the-shot-clock one-handed jams. We saw 360s, and we even saw Daily News photographer Ryan Taplin used as a decoy with another cameraman on one dunk attempt.

By the end, it was down to Cape Cod's Rob Sanders and Donnie Beacham of the Texas Tycoons.

Beacham was really trying to win the judges' votes, telling us he needed the 10s to stop Sanders.

He earned a perfect score of 40 on an impressive effort where he jumped over four children and slammed down the ball, although he should've shared a few of those points with the kid closest to the basket, who took a sneaker to the head.

Not to be outdone, Sanders jumped over a seated Thunder and received an off-the-glass pass from Frenzy teammate Martin, then threw down a one-handed dunk.

The two went to a dunk off, tied 75-75. After another round, Flexx took the decision out of my hands, sending the final decision to the fans.

Beacham received the loudest cheers. He walked away the winner, although the reaction of the fans indicated the Rainmen might be the real winners if the louder fans tell a few friends what they saw.

Before that, Aaron Cook of the Vermont Frost Heaves won the three-point shootout.AIRBORNE: Donnie Beacham of the Texas Tycoons dunks over a group of young fans during the slam-dunk contest. (Photo: RYAN TAPLIN)AIRBORNE: Donnie Beacham of the Texas Tycoons dunks over a group of young fans during the slam-dunk contest. (Photo: RYAN TAPLIN)

The all-star game goes today at 2 p.m.

How about an offensive prediction for the West all-stars?

"We'll probably get something like 170. If everybody's on fire, then maybe 180."

You're on.


“INCLUSIVE”: Joe Newman (right), chairman and co-founder of the American Basketball Association, drums up support yesterday at the Metro Centre for this weekend’s ABA all-star festivities in Halifax. (Photo: MIKE DEMBECK)
“INCLUSIVE”: Joe Newman (right), chairman and co-founder of the American Basketball Association, drums up support yesterday at the Metro Centre for this weekend’s ABA all-star festivities in Halifax. (Photo: MIKE DEMBECK)

Halifax, Nova Scotia

-Ten-year-old Vermont Frost Heaves fan Bailey Starr of Barre, who cast one of the votes that made our own Aaron Cook an ABA All-Star, likes to say, "Let's turn the A.C. on!" On Saturday afternoon, as this Canadian city recovered from one Arctic blast, it had to cope with another-Cook winning the Three-Point Shooting Contest at the ABA All-Star Weekend.

The Heaves' 6'2" guard dominated the competition, finishing first in each of its three rounds and defeating Billy Knight of the Hollywood Fame in the finals, 12 points to 9. Overall, Aaron sank 37 of the 45 shots he took. Afterward Farley Flax, host of "Canadian Idol," presented Cook with a crystal trophy in front of 2,500 people at the Halifax Metro Centre.

Cook and teammate Antonio Burks will participate in tomorrow's ABA All-Star Game, which tips off at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Vermont coach Will Voigt will lead the East All-Stars.



Not your average Joe
Co-founder cites passion, commitment as league’s driving forces

The Daily News

The American Basketball Association’s sprawling numbers are a Catch 22, according to the league’s chairman and co-founder.
“Some people have unlimited money and unlimited egos that transcend the ABA business model, and that’s unfortunate,” 69-year-old Joe Newman said yesterday at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame inside the Metro Centre. “They don’t feel they have to get out into the community or the need to do the things you need to do in order to run a good business.”
Newman cites former pro baseball player Brady Anderson, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller and Jessica Simpson’s former husband, Nick Lachey — all representatives of the Hollywood Fame based in California — as some of the worst offenders.
So, who exactly is responsible for enabling these teams to expand from eight back in the league’s inception in 2000-01 to approximately 70-plus for the 2007-08 campaign? And for market reservation fees ranging from $20,000 US to $50,000 US?
Hey, Joe, isn’t that you?
“I’ve probably brought some people in that maybe I shouldn’t have,” Newman conceded following yesterday’s news conference to drum up support for this weekend’s ABA all-star festivities in Halifax. “I take a tremendous amount of heat and a tremendous amount of blows, but I have a drive for diversification. Sixty per cent of my teams have either black, Hispanic, Asian or women owners.
“I defer on the side of dropping the rules when it comes to diversification because I want our league to be inclusive and for people to understand we want to represent North America.”


The U.S., Canadian and Mexican hoop loop — which is expected to include the Halifax Rainmen and Mississauga Redwolves amongst its roughly 20 expansion entries next season — has endured its struggles. Since 2000, 43 teams have folded and 12 have joined other leagues.
Last season, several struggling teams fulfilled their road dates by organizing pickup teams of former players who lived near the host site, while other teams refused to travel at all. Incredibly, three teams that qualified for the 2006 playoffs did not participate.
Newman said he’s replaced 12 ownership groups this season alone, including Montreal.
“I have over 5,000 applications from people who want teams, so there’s a tremendous desire,” said Newman. “I don’t expand willy-nilly. Sometimes the shine gets off the apple because the applicants are ex-basketball junkies who believe in the game of basketball but don’t understand the business of basketball.”
Newman defends his league’s dropout rate compared to other rival circuits.
“We have a lower percentage of teams that drop out than the Continental Basketball Association and the United States Basketball League,” he said. “The CBA has folded five teams for every team that’s still playing.
“It’s not capital that drives the ABA teams. It’s passion and commitment.”
A free family fest, which includes several activities for players to interact with spectators, runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Metro Centre.


A three-point shooting competition and slam-dunk contest is set for 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. The all-star game is tomorrow at 2 p.m.
TIP INS: Halifax Rainmen majority owner Andre Levingston said between $2,000 to $2,500 from this weekend will go towards the East Preston boys and girls club.

Levingston living the dream with ABA
Detroit native has high hopes for professional basketball franchise


Slam dunk Andre Levingston is the majority owner of Halifax’s new ABA team, the Rainmen. (Photo: Sabrena MacKenzie)
Slam dunk Andre Levingston is the majority owner of Halifax’s new ABA team, the Rainmen. (Photo: Sabrena MacKenzie)

The Daily News

BASKETBALL – Andre Levingston, dressed in a business suit, throws down a one-handed cuff dunk and promptly sits down for an interview.

“That brought back a lot of memories when I was up that high, but never before in a suit,” smiled the soft-spoken Levingston. “That's a first.”

(The Daily News denies any props were used in the shooting of the aforementioned photo. We, and Levingston, of course, challenge you to prove otherwise.)

The majority owner of the Halifax Rainmen — the city’s proposed entry in the American Basketball Association circuit set to begin play this November — is in town for this weekend’s ABA all-star festivities at the Metro Centre.

Over the past several months, he’s heard a few sneers and endured some jeers, but would like a fair chance to earn some cheers.

“We set out to perform a Broadway play and not a basketball game,” said the 41-year-old. “Every second this weekend will be scripted with lots of visuals. Fans will have a lot to get excited about. I want people to leave saying, ‘Man, I can’t wait for the Halifax Rainmen in November.”’

Born in Detroit, Levingston studied child psychology at Chico State University in California, where he played guard for the Division 2 Wildcats. He was a schoolteacher for six years, but moved back to Detroit and got involved with the African Centre Academy.

“We were losing a lot of black boys to crime and drugs, so it was amazing to be able to guide and touch so many young people,” said Levingston.

“I love helping kids, so that was a phenomenal time in my life.”

He developed “an entrepreneurial spirit” and moved to Toronto. There, he met former Saint Mary’s hoop star Jadranka Crnogorac of Dartmouth. Levingston, Crnogorac and his high school pal Keith McKenzie (a Super Bowl champ with the 1998 Green Bay Packers) purchased metro’s ABA franchise for US$20,000. McKenzie won’t be here this weekend because he’s being inducted into the Ball State football hall of fame.

“To own a franchise of this magnitude is a half-million-dollar investment and we’re using about $250,000 on this all-star game,” said Levingston. “I approached the league to host this showcase event because we’re serious about what we’re doing. There are all kinds of negative stories out there. We don’t want to be one of those stories.”

Levingston has two boys: Tyrone, 23; and Stephon, 22. Both play football at Delaware State and are NFL hopefuls.

“We’re a little spoiled in the U.S. because there’s so many sports for kids to dream about,” said Levingston. “But the ABA is a grassroots program that even Canadian kids can see and touch. It’s real. They can go to sleep at night and dream about the possibility of playing professional basketball.”

Approximately two or three ABA all-stars will make the rounds at various metro schools today between 10 a.

Rainmen owner promotes team
Former Division II player Levingston believes Halifax will welcome team
By GLENN MacDONALD Sports Reporter

Andre Levingston has been the man of mystery surrounding the American Basketball Association in Halifax.

The 41-year-old is the majority owner of the Halifax Rainmen, the proposed entry in the ABA set to begin play in November. But the Toronto-area businessman has been a behind-the-scenes player while vice president Jadranka Crnogorac of Dartmouth and Paul Riley, the Rainmen’s director of business and legal affairs, have been at the forefront promoting the fledging team and this weekend’s ABA all-star festivities at Metro Centre.

On Friday afternoon, Levingston stepped out of the shadow and was front and centre at a news conference in Halifax to promote the team and the all-star event.

"I’m still learning the city," Levingston said. "I know I’ve been the quiet one. But I’m going to be here in Halifax. I love the city. I like being part of the community here."

Born in Detroit, Levingston played NCAA Division 2 basketball with Chico State in California. He moved to Toronto where he owned a limousine service, an auto detailing shop, a restaurant and a media-marketing company.

It was in Toronto where he met Crnogorac, a former star with the Saint Mary’s Huskies, who convinced him on the idea of bringing an ABA team to Halifax.

Crnogorac, Levingston and an associate Keith MacKenzie purchased the ABA franchise for US$20,000.

"When Jad brought this to me, she said if you are thinking about bringing a professional franchise to Canada, you have to come to Halifax," Levingston recalled.

"The message I was getting was that it’s the Mecca of basketball in Canada. We wanted to make sure the city would embrace us and the support has been phenomenal. I don’t think there’s another team in the league that will get the support, from the sponsors, the city (and) the fans as Halifax.

"There’s been success here with the Windjammers, and we’re looking to duplicate that. I think the city will welcome both the Rainmen and the Mooseheads. It gives them another option, another night out."

The ownership group’s first test will be this weekend. The all-star event is a C$250,000 venture featuring a fan-fest, three-point shootout and slam dunk contest on Saturday night, along with a rock concert.

The all-star game is Sunday at 2 p.m. Two AUS games — St. Francis Xavier. versus Dalhousie today at 4 p.m. and Saint Mary’s against Memorial on Sunday at noon — have also been incorporated into the weekend. Riley said a turnout of about 6,000 over the two days would be enough to consider it a success.

Levingston isn’t worried about how this weekend’s events will translate to the Rainmen’s success next season.

"The game sells itself in being fast-paced and affordable basketball," Levingston said. "Even the all-star weekend, you can sit on the floor for $40. There’s not another pro league that you can sit on the floor. It’s a league where there’s interaction with the players. With the NBA, it’s all about being hands off. But in this league, it’s required (for the players) to interact with the fans.

"I think the fans will embrace it. We still have our work to do and we have some sceptics. But that’s OK; we’ll show the city."

( gmacdonald@herald.ca)

Jeanty lone Canadian on team

By GLENN MacDONALD Sports Reporter

The lone Canadian selected to this weekend’s American Basketball Association all-star game likes what Halifax has to offer.

"I see this working in Halifax," Cordell Jeanty, a six-foot-six rookie forward with the Quebec City Kebekwa, said at a news conference Friday in Halifax.

"The level of play that we already have in Quebec I’m sure is just going to transfer over next year to a strong Halifax team.

"We just got here yesterday and the feedback we have from the all-star game alone, it says to me that a team in Halifax would be very successful."

Jeanty points to the moderate success the Kebekwa have experienced in their first season of operation. The team sports a 12-7 record and have drawn an average of nearly 1,000 fans for its home games on the campus of Laval University in Ste-Foy.

"They are very supportive," Jeanty said. "They have welcomed us with open arms as soon as we got there."

Jeanty, who hails from Toronto, is only the second Canadian ever selected to the ABA all-star game.

He played two seasons of junior college with the John A. Logan Volunteers in Marion, Ill. before transferring to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, an NCAA Division 2 school in the suburbs of St. Louis.

His mantra is that basketball "knows no international boundaries."

"It’s quite an accomplishment for me and for my country to be selected," Jeanty said.

"To me I’m a basketball player; it doesn’t matter where you come from. Just because I’m from Canada, doesn’t mean we’re not talented."

( gmacdonald@herald.ca)

The 2007 American Basketball Association All-Star Game will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the 10,595 seat Halifax Metro Centre from January 27th to the 28th.

The first event, to be held on the 27th will include a game between St. Francis Xavier University and Dalhousie University, the three point contest, the slam dunk contest, the awards ceremony, and a small performance by Hedley to be MC'd by Farley Flex.

The second event on the 28th will include a game between Saint Mary's University and Memorial University, and the All-Star game; East versus West. Bob Hoffman of the Arkansas Aeros will coach the West team, and Will Voight of the Vermont Frost Heaves will coach the East team.


JANUARY 26 - 28, 2007

East All Stars

    Katu Davis, Detroit
    Antonio Burks, Vermont
    James Reaves, Rochester
    Drew Washington, Maryland
    Gregory Plummer, Strong Island
    Cedric McGinnis, Wilmington
    Antoine Sims, Buffalo
    Jerry Williams, Jacksonville
    Rob Sanders, Cape Cod
    Bobby St. Preux, Palm Beach
    Cordell Jeanty, Quebec City
    Robert Martin, Atlanta
    Alex Hill, Orlando

    West All Stars

    Mike Parker, Bellingham
    Donald Beachem, Texas
    Cardell Butler, San Diego
    Billy Knight, Hollywood
    Bobby Anderson, Peoria
    Terrell Hendricks, Maywood
    Lonnie Randolph, Quad City
    Curtis Haywood, Arkansas Aeros
    Jeremy Bell, Arkansas RiverCatz
    Jamel Staten, Minnesota
    Sun Yue, Beijing
    Chris Brown, Tennessee
    Tyrone Davis, Mississippi


by site manager Curtis J. Phillips

If you are a fan of high-scoring basketball games, make sure to check off January 28, 2007 on your calendar, for that's when the American Basketball Association circus...oops...I mean 2007 ABA All Star Game grabs the spotlight at Halifax's Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada.

The calibre of professional basketball, to be honest , will be third tier as the best North American players are already showcasing their talents in the National Basketball Association, NBA Development League and Continental Basketball Association.

Majority of these ABA All Star players - which I posted in a previous message- come from community college or NCAA Division II or III programs.

Unfortunately, the odd are that the closest any of these players will ever get to an NBA court is by purchasing a ticket...make that one in the nose bleed section for their salaries are third-world.

What you will see though , is athletes playing the game for love and living dreams.

What you will see is a high-scoring game with plenty of three-pointers jacked up...attested by previous ABA All Star Game scores: 163-149 (2004-05) and 161-138 (2000-01).

There are several interesting stories in this collection of 26 players.

San Diego Wildcats' Cardell Butler will showboat is skills he learned from his days as a AND1 player while Atlanta Vision's 6-foot-8 Robert Martin will display his monster dunks courtesy of a 40-inch vertical.

Detroit Panthers Kantu Davis is no stranger to crossing the border to Canada for pro hoops as he was a 1999-2000 second-team league all star for the Black Hills Gold (Rapid City, South Dakota) in the International Basketball Association which featured teams in Saskatoon (Saskatchewan Hawks) and Winnipeg (Winnipeg Cyclone).

Arkansas Aeros ' Curtis Haywood made it to the NBA doorstep by playing the D-League way back while Wilmington Sea Dawgs' Cedric McGinnis hopes his ranking in the Top 20 players in semi-professional basketball last year, brings out the scouts.

Would be nice to see his uncle in attendance too...George McGinnis one of the marquee players of the original ABA (1967-76).

Also hitting the court at the Metro Centre will be Quad City Riverhawks Lonnie Randolph who while playing for Drake in the NCAA ranks hit an amazing 22 of 24 free throws in a game.

Let's hope that The Hollywood Fames' Billy Knight brings some of the teams owners along which include W.W.E. diva Stacey Keibler and three-time NBA champion and 14-year vet John Salley.

Most interesting player perhaps and the one that may bring out the NBA scouts is 6-foot-9 guard Sun Yue of the Beijing Aoshen Olympian.

Playing for this transplanted team from the Chinese Basketball Association, Yue has already put up a couple of quadruple-doubles and is pinpointed to be the starting guard for China at the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing.

All of this may sound like Chinese to you but one thing is for sure...there will be plenty of English on the basketball come January 28.

After rocky start, ABA outlook positive

By CHAD LUCAS Sports Reporter

Most ABA stars couldn’t tell you much about Halifax, but they’re excited to be coming here for the basketball league’s all-star celebrations this weekend at the Metro Centre.

"I looked it up on a map," former NBA player Todd Day said when asked in a conference call Monday what he knew about the site of the 2007 all-star game.

Rob Sanders of the Cape Cod Frenzy was more blunt about his knowledge of the Maritimes — "absolutely nothing."

"If I have the time, I’m going to try to get some sightseeing in," he said. "But is it snowing up there? Then I’m going to be in the hotel."

Joking about the weather aside, both players said that the league’s northward expansion — and the fact they were talking to local reporters six days before the game — were positive signs of the ABA’s development.

"Two years ago we had the all-star game in Vegas, we didn’t have a conference call, we didn’t have media coverage," said Day, who plays for the Arkansas Aeros. "I think the league is improving. It seems like they’ve got something good going and they need to keep moving forward."

The ABA has ballooned to 56 teams since its rebirth in 1999 — yet that growth has sometimes been rocky, with a handful of franchises folding in mid-season.

But Sanders said he can see the league becoming more stable even since he joined the Frenzy late last season.

"From what I’m seeing, it’s getting better," he said. "It seems the fans are starting to come to the games, a lot of people are starting to hear about the ABA."

Sanders and Day are examples of the kind of talent the league has attracted. Sanders, a six-foot-seven forward from New London, Conn., played NCAA Division 1 at Providence College and helped the Friars reach the NCAA tournament in 2004.

Day was drafted eighth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1992 and spent eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 12.3 points per game for his career.

"There’s about five or six players on each team who have played Division 1 basketball or are just really good," said Sanders.

Both players said they enjoy the style of the ABA, where games tend to be high-scoring, run-and-gun affairs.

"For me as a player it’s just exciting to get out and play at a fast pace," Day said. "A lot of guys coming from college, the NCAA is more structured, and when they get out and get a chance to play in the open court it’s a lot more fun for them."

The former NCAA Arkansas Razorbacks standout said it’s great to have a home-grown league where talented players who don’t fit in the NBA can show their skills without going overseas.

"Where I’m playing is where I went to college, where it all started for me," he said.

The Halifax Rainmen are slated to start play in the ABA in November.

( clucas@herald.ca)


ABA officials promise dazzling all-star game

By CHAD LUCAS Sports Reporter

Nova Scotia basketball fans will be "dazzled" by the speed and style on display at the American Basketball Association all-star game, the league’s co-founder and CEO said Monday.

"You’ll be absolutely amazed at the quality of these players from top to bottom," Joe Newman said in a conference call promoting the ABA all-star weekend Jan. 27-28 at Halifax Metro Centre. "It is the most exciting professional basketball. It’s designed to be quicker, faster-paced and higher-scoring."

Newman and the owners of the league’s Halifax franchise are convinced that once local fans get a taste of the ABA’s hectic pace, they’ll want to see more when the Rainmen take to the court in November.

Paul Riley, the Rainmen’s director of business and legal affairs, said he isn’t worried that ABA all-stars such as Jamal Staten aren’t household names — once fans see them play, they’ll be convinced the league is for real, he said.

"Very few people had heard of (former Halifax Windjammers player) Willie Bland before he came to Halifax and became a huge star," Riley said. "I’m not worried about that part of it, once people come and see the talent.

"If they buy into the (all-star game) and come and see the talent level, we’re pretty confident they’ll come back."

The all-star weekend is a $250,000 venture featuring a fan-fest, three-point shootout and slam dunk contest on Saturday night, along with a concert by rock group Hedley and local artists, including former St. Francis Xavier basketball player Jordan Croucher.

The all-star game is Sunday at 2 p.m. Two AUS games — St. F.X. versus Dalhousie on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Saint Mary’s against Memorial on Sunday at noon — have also been incorporated into the weekend at Metro Centre.

Riley conceded that ticket sales have been slow so far but have started to pick up in the past week.

"Our radio campaign just started, and since we’ve done that we’ve seen a significant spike in terms of daily sales," he said.

A turnout of about 6,000 over the weekend would be enough for the Halifax team to consider it a success, he said.

Newman said the decision to give Halifax the all-star game before an ABA game is ever played here is both a vote of confidence for the Rainmen franchise and a sign of the league’s commitment to developing in Canada.

Montreal and Quebec City already have franchises in the sprawling 56-team league, with Ottawa and Mississauga expected to join Halifax in next season’s expansion movement.

"This is our way of saying to Canada, ‘We take you seriously, you are important to us, you’re valuable to us,’" Newman said.

Alexander Wolff, owner of the Vermont Frost Heaves, said he’s excited about having the all-star game in Halifax and looks forward to having the city in the league.

"I can’t speak for other owners, but I know a little bit about Halifax and I know the incredible basketball tradition there," said Wolff, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. "I just can’t wait to get there."

( clucas@herald.ca)

You only get one shot at a first impression

By CHRIS COCHRANE Sports Columnist

OPTIMISM RULED DURING a Monday conference call when American Basketball Association partisans discussed with the Halifax media the upcoming ABA all-star weekend planned for the city and their league in general.

League officials are high on the potential of the Halifax Rainmen, a franchise scheduled to start ABA play next fall. Those behind the franchise are equally high on the league. And everyone sounds eager to show off the high-energy ABA product to an untapped market that once enjoyed such a great marriage with pro basketball.

In the midst of the hype was a bit of sound advice from Alexander Wolff, the president and general manager of the ABA’s Vermont Frost Heaves.

"An ownership group that gets the local market is going to succeed," Wolff said of the importance of understanding what will and won’t sell in any particular market.

"One of the things about the ABA is that it’s so big and so sprawling that there’s no cookie-cutter market and I think what’s worked for us in Vermont has been to create an experience that fits the market," Wolff said. "We play in old, downtown, intimate venues. We use local foods at our concession stands and have a lot of Vermont entertainment as part of our games."

That formula fits most pro franchises and Halifax is no different. An understanding of the local market and what makes it tick has long been the key for any new sporting venture in this city.

Halifax’s ABA franchise has been slow to show that moxie. In fact, the majority shareholder of the Rainmen, Andre Livingston of Toronto, hasn’t made a public appearance here to promote the new club. But this all-star step, with the local team and league partnering to shoulder the $250,000 budget for the Jan. 27-28 event, is the most tangible commitment to the market yet.

Paul Riley, who has been fronting much of the work on behalf of the Rainmen, is confident the team’s profile in the local basketball community will soon increase.

"Once they come and see the talent level, we’re pretty confident they’ll come back," Riley said of local fans. "We’re not trying to sell them on, ‘Oh, this guy used to play in the NBA, so come and watch him’ or ‘This guy may get to the NBA so come and watch him.’ We’re selling them on ‘These guys play in the ABA, that’s a talented league with lots of great players.’ "

Certainly, first impressions are powerful. And all-star weekend is the opportunity for the ABA and the Rainmen to make positive impressions.

The lineup is busy, including a fan-friendly string of Saturday events in which fans will get a chance to meet ABA players. There will be an AUBC game, ABA all-star three-point and dunking contests, and a concert. Sunday will feature a second AUBC game and then the ABA all-star contest.

Obviously, there are a couple of goals for the Rainmen. One is to draw enough fans to cover costs and maybe even make franchise-building seed money. The larger focus is on building a fan base for next fall.

Reports are that tickets haven’t been moving quickly. Riley played down attendance expectations, noting that 3,000 for the Saturday events and 3,000 more for Sunday would be OK with him.

"With 6,000, we’d feel like we’d hit a fair bit of the basketball fans in the community, and we’d be confident word of mouth from that weekend would suggest once our season starts, we’d be looking at a good return."

The Rainmen are making a heavy investment in order to make that strong first impression. But it’s a smart move, should fans like what they see.

( ccochrane@herald.ca)

Chris Cochrane is a columnist with The Chronicle Herald sports

Indianapolis, IN. The American Basketball Association (ABA) announced today that the popular group HEDLEY will headline the entertainment at a concert during All Star Weekend on Saturday, January 27th in Halifax, , the day before the 2007 ABA All Star Game. Tickets are now available.

A lot has happened since HEDLEY released their self-titled Universal Music Canada debut in the fall. HEDLEY have been nominated for two Junos (Rock Albumn and New Group of the Year), the album has been certified platinum, and the band has completed a sold out tour across Canada with Simple Plan. They've had three Top 20 and a #1 hit on the MuchMusic Top 30 Chart with "On My Own." Now HEDLEY are about to embark on another cross Canada Tour  this time with MXPX and Faber.



Rob Sanders, 6'7" forward for the Cape Cod Frenzy. Rob is averaging 21.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and shoots 58% from the floor.

Antonie Sims, a 5'10", 180lb guard from the Buffalo Silverbacks. Antoine averages 28 points per game and 3 assists

Zakee Boyd, a 6'7" guard from the Newark Express. Zakee averages 25ppg, shoots 50% from the field, and 45% from beyond the 30-point line and is one of the favorites to win the 3-point shooting contest.

James "Mook" Reaves, a 6'8" forward from the Rochester RazorSharks. "Mook" is virtually unstoppable in the paint with a 15.3ppg and 6.3rpg ion a well-balanced teamn. He led the team in scoring last season and was also an Honorable Mention ABA All Star last season.

 "Mook" Reaves


Jamel Staten, 6'7" guard/forward for the Minnesota Ripknees. Jamel is averaging 30ppg and 8 rebounds. And is a repeater from last year's All Star team. Jamel attended Minneapolis North High School, and graduated in 2001. He was selected for the Associated Press First Team All-State and the First Team All-Metro teams. Jamel averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds per game in his last high-school season.
After transferring from the University of Northern Illinois, Jamel played two seasons for the University of Minnesota Duluth, where, in 2004, he made nine consecutive three-pointers against St. Cloud State. Twice named to the First Team All Region, as a senior, Jamal was a First Team All American. Most recently, he played with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA Summer League and for the Toledo Ice of the ABA.

Tyrone Davis, a 6'6", 215lb forward from the Mississippi Miracles. Tyrone averages 29.5ppg, 12.1rpg and 3.7 steals.

 Tyrone Davis

Curtis Haywood 6'7” forward from the #1 rated Arkansas Aeros. Curtis averages 29.8ppg, 10.5rpg and 5.9 assists per game.

Bobby Anderson, a 6'5" swingman from the Peoria Kings. Bobby is averaging 27.9ppg and 8.4rpg and has helped move the team into the ABA Power Rankings since joining the squad.

Jan 11, 2007

Indianapolis, IN. The American Basketball Association (ABA) announced today that players from the Peoria Kings and defending champion Rochester RazorSharks have been selected to the ABA All Star teams that will meet in Halifax on Sunday, January 28th. According to league officials, "With 47 teams in the league, picking the All Star teams was not easy. But we believe we have a fabulous array of talent that will show the world how good the ABA really is - and there will be players in the league who should have been selected, but there just weren't enough roster spots."

West All Star: Bobby Anderson, a 6'5" swingman from the Peoria Kings. Bobby is averaging 27.9ppg and 8.4rpg and has helped move the team into the ABA Power Rankings since joining the squad.

East All Star: James "Mook" Reaves, a 6'8" forward from the Rochester RazorSharks. "Mook" is virtually unstoppable in the paint with a 15.3ppg and 6.3rpg ion

Indianapolis, IN. The American Basketball Association (ABA) today released the names of two additional players to the ABA All Star Game set for Sunday, January 28th in Halifax, Nova Scotia League officials stated "Both of these young men can play. We're surprised that they have not moved to the next level already. Fans will be delighted to see them in action."

West All Star: Curtis Haywood, a 6'7" forward from the #1 rated Arkansas Aeros. Curtis averages 29.8ppg, 10.5rpg and 5.9 assists per game.

East All Star: Zakee Boyd, a 6'7" guard from the Newark Express. Zakee averages 25ppg, shoots 50% from the field, and 45% from beyond the 30-point line and is one of the favorites to win the 3-point shooting contest. For more information, visit www.abalive.com.

Indianapolis, IN. The American Basketball Association (ABA) today named two additional players to the East and West All Star squads that will compete at All Star Weekend in Halifax, January 28th. According to Tom Doyle, ABA President, "After yesterday's announcement, we have many emails asking why we didn't name the team all at once. My answer was that we think this is more fun and interesting."

West All Star: Tyrone Davis, a 6'6", 215lb forward from the Mississippi Miracles. Tyrone averages 29.5ppg, 12.1rpg and 3.7 steals.

East All Star: Antonie Sims, a 5'10", 180lb guard from the Buffalo Silverbacks. Antoine averages 28 points per game and 3 assists.

For more information, visit www.abalive.com or the teams' websites.

Sanders an All Star

Orleans, Massachusetts: Rob Sanders, the high flying forward from the Cape Cod Frenzy, has been selected by the league as a 2007 ABA All Star. ABA All Star Weekend is scheduled for January 26-28 in Halifax Nova Scotia. The festivities will take place at the Halifax Metro Centre beginning on Saturday, with the game itself tipping off on Sunday at 2:00 pm.

Sanders, who is from New London, Connecticut, goes 6'7 242 lbs and possesses a 40" vertical leap. He is an electrifying player who can post up, handle the ball, and shoot. He is a high flier who goes over the tree tops for amazing slams and blocked shots. Through the first ten games of the season, Sanders averaged 21.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game for the Frenzy.

Rob Sanders played at Providence College in the Big East, where he teamed up with Boston Celtics forward Ryan Gomes to help spark the Friars into the 2004 NCAA tournmanet The duo also helped Providence defeat eventual NCAA champ Connecticut twice in one year - teams that featured future NBA players Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Charlie Villanueva, Hilton Armstrong, and Josh Boone. Rob Sanders

"We are proud to have one of our players represent the Cape Cod Frenzy in the 2007 ABA All Star Game The job of selecting 26 players out of 47 ABA teams was not an easy one, and I'm sure there are many more deserving players in the ABA.Richmond Pittman Jr., on our team, is one such player who is also producing All Star caliber numbers. But our players support Rob and look forward to seeing his contribution to the All Star game," stated Frenzy Head Coach Keith Clarke.

To see the Frenzy's new All Star selection in action, come out Sunday at 6:05 PM to see the Frenzy battle the Newark Express at Bourne Middle School. We encourage all the fans to come out again and support your Cape Cod Frenzy as we look to get back on the winning track. All children 13 and under are FREE for this special game so spread the word! Tickets are available at the door or online. For more information, please contact Frenzy GM Ian McCarthy at ian@capecodfrenzy.com or visit www.capecodfrenzy.com or www.abalive.com.

 All Star Coaches Announced

Indianapolis, IN. The American Basketball Association (ABA) today named the coaches for the ABA East and West All Star Teams for the game to be played on Sunday, January 28th inHalifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. According to Tom Doyle, ABA President, "The coaches were selected by the positions of their teams in the ABA Power Rankings as of Saturday night. The coaches of the three highest-ranked teams in the East and West will be honored with the top two coaches named Head Coach. They are:

ABA West All Star Coaches
Head Coach: Bob Holland, Arkansas Aeros
Asst Coach: Chris Terrell, Texas Tycoons
Asst Coach: Larry McKenzie, Minnesota Ripknees

ABA East All Star Coaches
Head Coach: Will Voigt, Vermont Frost Heaves
Asst Coach: Rod Baker, Rochester Razor Sharks
Asst Coach: Steve Turner, Jacksonville Jam

 Bob Hoffamn     Will Voigt

"We will begin naming the ABA All-Star teams on Tuesday," added Doyle. "The talent in the ABA is tremendous. I know that fans will be pleased with the selections and for the people of Halifax in particular, I know that you will be impressed. When Halifax begins playing in the league next November, you'll have a good idea of the level of talent in the ABA. We are looking forward to putting on a great show for you in January and hope that you will welcome the best of the ABA." For more information, visit

ABA All-Star Weekend Will Be Available Via Pod Cast For First Time - ABA

MLN Newswire- www.mlntherawfeed.com- Halifax, Nova Scotia.  For the first time ever, a professional sports league's All-Star Weekend will be available via pod cast.  It is a joint venture between Jazz Media and AdValiant of Toronto and the ABA.  The 2007 ABA All-Star Weekend which will be seen nationally in Canada on The Score, will also be available around the world via pod casting.  This gives basketball fans worldwide the opportunity to see the best of the ABA. "We're proud to be working with AdValiant on this cutting edge initiative.  We'll be pod casting four segments of five minutes each day, essentially the highlights of Friday, Saturday and Sunday," said Susan Douglas, VP of Operations at Jazz Media.  "With pod casting, it's not as though you can show highlights of the whole game, which would take too long to download. Instead, we can show you the highlights." Douglas said also that AdValiant and Jazz Media are currently working on a deal that will see the game broadcast on mobile phones worldwide as well.  "This is where technology is going, ultimately accommodating the fan.  If you can't make the game in Halifax, we'll bring it to you - via your iPod or cell phone.  We're really excited that the ABA is the first pro-league to showcase its All-Star Weekend in this manner." "We are very pleased to be working with AdValiant and Jazz Media on this groundbreaking initiative.  While we expect a sellout crowd for the All-Star Weekend in Nova Scotia, we also know that there is great interest worldwide in the ABA, its premiere players, and we are very pleased that so many will be able to share in the excitement of what will be a gala weekend," added Joe Newman, ABA CEO.

 ABA All Star Tickets


2007 American Basketball Association (ABA) All Star Weekend

Jan 27 - 28, 2007 - Halifax Metro Centre

Get Tickets Now!  Seating Plan

WHERE: Halifax Metro Centre
WHEN: Saturday January 27 & Sunday January 28 
ON SALE: starting Wednesday November 29 at 9am
TICKETS: per day: (also see seating plan above)
Floor: $40
Bottom Lwr Bowl Centre: $34.25
Top Lwr Bowl/Bottom Upr Bowl Centre: $32
Lwr Bowl Ends: $20
Remaining Upr Bowl: $11.50
Prices include tax PLUS an additional $3 per ticket service charge if ordered by phone, online or at an outlet. Online orders also subject to an additional per order fee.
AVAILABILITY: Tickets available to purchase at:
- The Ticket Atlantic Box Office
- Charge by phone at (902) 451-1221
- the 17 participating Atlantic Superstore outlets
- Online (click Get Tickets Now! link above once on sale)

TICKET LIMIT: 10 per person

Saturday January 27, 11am to 2pm
- free event for families involving games, music, trivia contests, interactive games and prizes, meet and greet the mascot, open practice with the players and coaches, autograph session, on court contests and merchandise give away. ABA All-Star dance team will perform dance routines and meet and greet the fans.
Saturday January 27 starting at 4pm
- St. FX vs. Dalhousie
- 3 Point Contest
- Slam Dunk Contest
- Awards Ceremony
- Performance featuring Hedley, MC'd by Farley Flex
Sunday January 28 starting at noon
- Saint Mary's vs. Memorial
- All-Star Game: Join the ABA All-Stars as they battle it out for this year's All-Star crown, East vs West!


Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. The ABA All Star Game Committee today announced the Official Sponsors for the All Star Game and Weekend scheduled for Jan 26-28 in Halifax. According to Paul Riley, Co-Chairman of the committee, "The response we have been getting from the business community has amazing. The entire province seems to have rallied around the news of the gala weekend - and the support has been phenomenal. We are deeply appreciative and we are very excited. It is going to be a tremendous weekend of sports and entertainment." The Official Sponsors:

Host Hotel The Westin Nova Scotian www.westin.ns.ca
Signs and Posters: Sojourn Signs www.sojourn.ca
Newspaper: The Halifax Daily News www.afxnews.ca
Radio Station: Z103.5 The Beat of  Halaifax www.z103halifax.com
Energy Drink: Hip Hop Beverages, makers of Pit Bull Energy Drinks www.hiphopbev.com
Shoes: Reebok Canada www.rbk.com/ca
Hospitality: Dalhousie University www.dal.ca
Travel We Tour America www.wetouramerica.com
Entertainment: Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation www.nsgc.ca
Organizers: Jazz Media Display Group Inc. www.jazzmediagroup.com

"And there will be more to come as we get closer to the event," added Riley. For more information, visit www.jazzmediagroup.com or www.abalive.com.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Halifax, Nova Scotia -- On Monday, November 27th, the owners of the 2007 Halifax ABA expansion team held a press conference in Halifax to announce that the American Basketball Association (ABA) will stage the league's 2007 All Star Weekend in Halifax.  The All-Star Weekend, slated for Saturday, January 27th and Sunday, January 28th, will take place at the Halifax Metro Centre and will feature the ABA Eastern All-Stars versus the ABA Western All-Stars.
The Saturday, January 27th session will feature a college game between the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and the Dalhousie Tigers at 4 pm.  That will be followed by an ABA Three-Point Shooting Contest and Slam Dunk competition.  And, there will be a major concert as well. (To be announced separately).  On Sunday, January 28th, the 2007, the ABA All-Star Game will be played at 2 pm.
"We figured that this was a fabulous way to kick off our major expansion in Canada," said Joe Newman, ABA CEO. " We have two great teams now in Quebec City and Montreal and we are looking forward to having Halifax. Three great ownership groups and more coming."
Tickets range from $10 to $35 for each of the Saturday and Sunday sessions and will go on sale at 11 am Wednesday, November 29th.  Tickets are available online at www.ticketatlantic.com or by phone at (902) 451-1221 or at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office located at Halifax Metro Centre and all participating Atlantic Superstore outlets.
Andre Levingston, the new Halifax expansion team added, "And as a way to introduce our team to the community, we are setting aside some of the proceeds from the game for local charities.  We are going to be an important part of the community."

For more information, email karen@jazzmediagroup.com.

Note: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the American Basketball Association.

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