Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘United States Basketball League’ Category

1997-1999 Raleigh Cougars

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1997 Raleigh Cougars Pocket ScheduleUnited States Basketball League (1997-1999)

Born: 1997
Folded: June 7, 1999

Arena: Dorton Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Clyde Austin

USBL Championships: None


The Raleigh Cougars low-level minor league basketball outfit founded by former N.C. State star and Harlem Globetrotter Clyde “The Glide” Austin. The team’s name recalled the old Carolina Cougars club that played in the American Basketball Association in the early 1970’s. The original ABA Cougars played in various arenas around North Carolina, including Raleigh’s Dorton Arena, where Austin’s team set up shop a quarter century later.

The Cougars’ biggest name was Lorenzo Charles, who famously slammed home a buzzer-beating dunk to life N.C. State to the 1983 NCAA championship over the University of Houston.

As the Cougars prepared for their third season in the United States Basketball League in 1999, it was clear that something wasn’t right. The team held no training camp. Clyde Austin no-showed a league owner’s meeting and bounced his payroll. The Raleigh Cougars managed to play 13 games, posting a 5-8 record, before USBL Commissioner Daniel Meisenheimer euthanized the club on June 7th, 1999 with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

It later emerged the Clyde Austin was running a multi-state pyramid scheme during the time he was involved in the USBL. Serving as a pastor in churches from North Carolina to Nevada, Austin swindled parishioners out of an estimated $16 million between 1996 and 2000. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2004.



Written by Drew Crossley

May 29th, 2017 at 7:36 pm

1985-1986 Springfield Fame

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Springfield Fame Pocket ScheduleUnited States Basketball League (1985-1986)

Born: 1985 – USBL founding franchise.
Folded: Postseason 1986

Arena: Springfield Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owner: Harry Gilligan


The Springfield Fame was a minor league basketball outfit that played two summer seasons in Western Massachusetts in the mid-1980’s.  Springfield is the host city of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which inspired the team’s name.

Though they lasted just two seasons, the Fame were noteworthy for two players that spent time on the roster. Michael Adams, an under-sized three-point specialist, played for the Fame in 1985 and 1986. (That’s him pictured on the team’s 1986 pocket schedule, above right). Adams kicked around the minor leagues in the USBL and the CBA for two years after graduating Boston College in 1985. He latched on for good in the NBA in the fall of 1986 and later became an All-Star for the Denver Nuggets. Adams retired in 1996 as one of the NBA’s all-time 3-point shooting threats.

In 1986, the Fame made national headlines by signing 27 year old women’s basketball legend Nancy Lieberman. Lieberman thus became the first female basketball player to play regular season minutes in a men’s pro league. Her contract reportedly paid the USBL’s league maximum salary in 1986 – $10,000 for the summer. Lieberman would play limited minutes throughout the first half of the USBL schedule before a thumb injury led to a premature ending to her historic season. Lieberman earned election to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.

The Fame won the USBL’s inaugural championship in 1985 by virtue of having the league’s best regular season record at 19-6. Playoffs were planned, but ultimately scrapped as the new league worked out the bugs. Guard Tracy Jackson was named co-Player of the Year for 1985 and head coach Gerald Oliver earned the USBL’s Coach-of-the-Year honor.

Springfield was outstanding again in 1986 with a 23-10 record under new coach Henry Bibby. Despite their winning ways, the Fame folded quietly following the 1986 season.

Springfield Fame



Lieberman Closes On a Dream“, Peter Alfano, The New York Times, June 10, 1986


1985-1986 Wildwood Aces

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Wildwood AcesUnited States Basketball League (1985-1986)

Born: 1985 – USBL founding franchise.
Moved: 1987 (Philadelphia Aces)

Arena: Wildwood Convention Hall

Team Colors:

Owners: Peter Bonastia & Robert Worton


The Wildwood Aces were one of seven founding franchises in the United States Basketball League in the summer of 1985.  The USBL started out as a low-level minor league loop in New England, New York and New Jersey, but in later seasons expanded as far afield as Kansas.

The New Jersey-based Aces finished dead last in the seven-team USBL in 1985 with a 6-18 record.  In 1986, under new head coach Lefty Ervin, the Aces improved to 2nd place with a 23-10 record.  According to The Philadelphia Inquirer the Wildwood Aces averaged between 400 and 500 fans per game at Convention Hall during the 1986 season.

The Aces’ top name was former Villanova star Stewart Granger, a former 1st round pick of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers in 1983.

Prior to the 1987 season, owner Peter Bonastia, a Northern New Jersey real estate developer, moved the Aces to Philadelphia.


Wildwood Aces







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