The ABA has long been the most entertaining pro sports enterprise in the country, but this offseason was especially promising. Allen Iverson's mom bought in. So did a heavyweight group including AJ Discala (Tony Soprano's son-in-law), Nick Lachey, "7th Heaven's" Geoff Stults, celebrity dance person Stacy Keibler, John Salley, Brian Vickers, Brady Anderson and Kyle Boller, an ownership group that makes Allen Iverson's mom look about as interesting as Robert Kraft. P.M. Dawn signed up to play an ABA show. Then Salley became the ABA's commissioner, while pledging to do a better job running a minor league hoops league than former Bad Boy teammate Isiah did. (Which, frankly, Allen Iverson's mom could do.) And the Peoria franchise announced its new logo would feature Peoria's skyline. And there will be probably 57 teams this season. Really. 57. One of the teams is owned by The Imperiali Organization, which was founded by a guy who decided to run for President (of the country) "after decades of traveling the globe and dwelling amongst its people."
Locally, we added a team (Alexandria United), which, in the grand ABA tradition, has already changed its name (to the Alexandria Wind Jammers, out of courtesy to D.C. United). (I was at a game once, a few years ago, when the visiting name changed its name before the game.) Plus the Baltimore Pearls announced that they would use their tryout process to film a reality TV show for local cable.
More seriously, the co-owner of the Maryland Nighthawks, Tom Doyle, will become the president and COO of the league. I've known Tom for about two years, since he bought in before the Nighthawks opening season. He was always skeptical
of some of the weirdness that went on elsewhere, and he was always committed to having a legitimate operation. I just talked with him and he said that he and Salley are determined to put an end to the amateur stunts like teams not showing for games. He said they gave a stern talk to league owners at the fall meetings last week.
"I said 'This nonsense, if you don't come to a game or you don't show up, you're out of the league,'" Tom told me. "'Here's how it is ladies and gentlemen. It's very simple. We have rules, you abide by them. You don't, you're not playing. End of story."
(Tom is also a personal injury lawyer whose slogan is "Your best friend. Their worst enemy." So I think he's serious.)
(Also, Tom has added one of his former players, local legend Lawrence Moten, as the Nighthawks' vice president of player development, but the roster isn't yet set. You'll learn about it here first. Or close to first.)
Plus, as always, the ABA is doing its level best to help Scrabble players everywhere (via the Cape Cod Frenzy, the Carson Buzz, the Little Rock River Catz, the Montreal Matrix, the Pittsburgh Xplosion and the Wilmington Sea Dawgs).
(One team has five, count 'em, five mascots, and all five involve either the letter X or the letter Z.)