Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Red, White, and New: Richmond Elite Pro Basketball Team Helps the ABA to Bounce Back from the Past and Virginia State University Students to Bounce into the Future

Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Red, White, and New: Richmond Elite Pro Basketball Team Helps the ABA to Bounce Back from the Past and Virginia State University Students to Bounce into the Future

Article excerpt

Do you remember when the American Basketball Association (ABA), that 60's and 70's league, spawned the illustrious careers of a bevy of superstars such as eventual NBA Hall of Famers, Moses Malone, who became "the first high school player to go directly from high school to the NBA" (Smith, 2016) when he moved on from Petersburg High School to play for the Utah Stars in 1974, and Julius "Dr. J" Erving, who once played for the Virginia Squires (Miller, 2005)? Do you remember when the ABA "introduced the three-point shot" and "the world's first Slam-Dunk Contest" that "Dr. J" won? Do you remember the stylish players who "grew outlandishly large Afros" and that "the cheerleaders wore bikinis" (http://www.historv.com/this-day-in-historv/american-basketballassociation-debuts)?

"The original ABA was formed in 1967 and lasted 10 seasons prior to merging four of its teams into the NBA. They were the Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets and San Antonio Spurs." Prior to its dissolution, the ABA "produced some of the greatest players of the 20th century...." "In fact, 50% of the NBA All Star team in the first year of the merger were ABA players" (http://www.americanbasketballassociation.org/#! history/c66t).

Wow! What a league! During its heyday, the ABA, with its dazzling red, white, and blue basketball that complemented its players' "freewheeling" style of play, was really something special. Now, for nostalgic avid fans who miss that league, there is no need to dwell on the past because that multicolored ball is still bouncing.. .in the new ABA. Yes, that's right. The ABA has bounced back and from all indications, it's here to stay.

"Former ABA Commissioner, Dick Tinkham, and Joe Newman brought the ABA back in the 1990's and have formed the largest professional sports league in the world. They made it affordable so that people like me could become owners of a professional basketball team. Currently, we have over 90 teams in the league and it's constantly growing. The league has given over 1,000 players and 200 coaches and officials the opportunity to be a part of this great organization," said Joyce Patterson, an owner of an ABA franchise in Richmond, VA.

A minority-owned team, her Richmond Elite squad is one of the most powerful current (2015-2016) teams in the entire ABA. Under the leadership of Patterson, who was recently "selected to join the Executive Board for the ABA," and her son, General Manager Jason Patterson, who was recently chosen to serve as the "Division Chairman for the ABA Mid Atlantic Division," the team was undefeated (6-0) in December 2015 and ranked No. 1 among the league's 98 teams (http://www.richmondelitebasketball. com/ home.html).

This current "elite" status is not an anomaly. Since its inception in 2011, the organization has experienced tremendous success. During its inaugural season (2011-2012), the Elite finished with an impressive 12-5 record. The following two seasons, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, the team was crowned "Mid-Atlantic Division Champions" while posting remarkable respective 14-3 and 15-1 records. Last season's 2014-2015 team finished with a robust 11-4 record (http://www.(richmondelitebasketball.com/). Many members of the Elite have moved on to play professional basketball overseas.

One of those international players is Brandon Rozzell, who played in Holland. Before joining the Elite, Rozzell starred at Highland Springs High School (Virginia), and was also a key member of Virginia Commonwealth University's 2011 NCAA Final Four squad. Another local product, Brandon Macklin, who played at Matoaca High School (Virginia) and Virginia State University, played professionally in Australia, while other Elite players have played pro basketball in Japan, Chile, Kosovo, the Dominican Republic, Spain, Columbia, and Montenegro.

On the home front, the current team, which is guided by head coach, Mike Sailes and his assistant, Gene Brown, plays its home games in "Big Ben's Home Court" at 2206 Westwood Ave. …

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