EPISODE 126: CBA Basketball’s Fort Wayne Fury – With Rob Brown

After extraordinary listener response to our Episode #118 with David Levine a few months back, we bounce-pass our way back to the endlessly intriguing Continental Basketball Association for this week’s conversation – this time with a focus on the league’s travails during the 1990s, courtesy of the Fort Wayne (IN) Fury and its former radio voice/media relations director Rob Brown.

More than forty years since the relocation of the NBA’s seminal Pistons from the Summit City to Detroit (and a decade before the arrival of the current-day G-League Mad Ants), the Fury held court at the city’s Allen County War Memorial Coliseum from 1991 until the league’s first demise in 2001 – winning the CBA’s regular season title in 1998, after narrowly losing the league championship finals two seasons earlier.

Brown recounts some of his standout memories from his time with the Fury, including:

  • Playing second fiddle to the Komets, Fort Wayne’s minor league hockey juggernaut;

  • The harrowing 50-foot fall of team mascot “Sabre” from the Coliseum’s ceiling during a 1996 playoff game;

  • Indiana Hoosier legend Keith Smart’s final year of playing and first year of pro coaching – both with the Fury;

  • The short-lived playing career of Percy Miller – better known as rap superstar Master P; AND

  • Why today’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants owe a debt of gratitude to both the Fury and the CBA.

PLUS:  The real origin of New York Knicks/ESPN broadcaster Mike Breen’s signature three-point call!

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EPISODE #118: The Continental Basketball Association – With David Levine

Author and former SPORT magazine writer David Levine (Life on the Rim: A Year in the Continental Basketball Association) joins the ‘cast to give us our first taste of the quirky minor league basketball circuit that began as a Pennsylvania-based regional outfit in 1946 (predating the NBA’s formation by two months), and meandered through a myriad of death-defying iterations until whimpering into oblivion in 2009.

Often billed throughout its curious history as the "World's Oldest Professional Basketball League," the colorful Continental Basketball Association rocketed into the national sports consciousness during the 1980s –  when expansion into non-traditional locales (e.g., Anchorage, AK; Casper, WY; Great Falls, MT; Atlantic City, NJ); innovative rule changes (e.g., sudden-death overtime, no foul-outs, a seven-point game scoring system); and headline-grabbing fan promotions (e.g., “1 Million Dollar Supershot," "Ton-of-Money Free Throw," "CBA Sportscaster Contest") – garnered its first national TV coverage, and even grudging respect from the staid, top-tier NBA.

Levine recounts his time chronicling the 1988-89 season of the CBA’s Albany (NY) Patroons, and the real-world stories of the realities of playing, coaching (including a young and hungry George Karl), traveling, and endlessly hoping in a league that sometimes rewarded its members with opportunities at the next level of pro basketball – but more often, did not.

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Life on the Rim: A Year in the Continental Basketball Association - buy here