Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘ABL 1996-1998’ tag

1997-1998 Philadelphia Rage

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American Basketball League (1997-1998)

Born: July 21, 1997 – The Richmond Rage relocate to Philadelphia, PA.
Died: December 22, 1998 – The ABL ceases operations in midseason.


Team Colors: Black, Red & Gold

Owner: American Basketball League


The Philadelphia Rage were a women’s professional basketball team that operated for a season-and-a-half in the American Basketball League.  The franchise started out in Virginia as the Richmond Rage during the ABL’s 1996-97 inaugural season and advanced to the 1997 ABL Championship Series, losing to the Columbus Quest.

In July 1997 the Rage relocated to Philadelphia due to poor ticket sales and the small size of the media market in Richmond.  In their first season in Philly, the Rage split their games between the Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania and the brand new 10,000-seat Apollo at Temple University.   Attendance in Philadelphia was notably lousy.  During the 1997-98 season, Philadelphia ranked 8th out of the ABL’s 9 teams with average crowds of 3,238 for 22 home dates.  For the aborted 1998-99 season, when the Rage played solely at the Apollo, attendance was far and away the weakest in the league, with only 1,495 per game showing up for six dates.

The 1997-98 Rage club was terrible on the court, despite the presence of three women’s game legends on the roster in Adrienne Goodson, Taj McWilliams and Philly native Dawn Staley.  The Rage finished in last place in their division with a 13-31 record.

As the 1998-99 season began, the Rage seemed poised to turn things around, despite the loss of Dawn Staley, who jumped to the ABL’s much stronger rival, the Women’s National Basketball Association, during the offseason.   Hall-of-Famer Anne Donovan was the new coach and had the Rage off to a 9-5 start before the league ran out of money just before Christmas.   The league had kept the true severity of its financial pressures quiet and many players, fans and employees were caught off guard when the ABL abruptly closed its doors on December 22, 1998.


==Key Figures==

  • Anne Donovan (Head Coach)
  • Teresa Edwards
  • Adrienne Goodson
  • Taj McWilliams
  • Dawn Staley


==In Memoriam==

Rage guard Katrina Price died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on January 18, 1998, less than a month after the ABL folded.  She was 23.



American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs


1996-1998 San Jose Lasers

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American Basketball League (1996-1998)

Born: February 1996 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: December 22, 1998 – The ABL ceases operations in mid-season.


Team Colors: Green, Black, Silver & White

Investor/Operator: Joe Lacob


The San Jose Lasers were a franchise in the women’s American Basketball League, which debuted in October 1996 and briefly competed against the NBA-backed Women’s National Basketball Association.

The Lasers split their home games between the San Jose Event Center, where they held the majority of their games, and occasional dates at the larger San Jose Arena.  The Lasers averaged 3,181 fans per game in 1996-97, but picked up considerably the next season to 4,773.  The Lasers drew 4,447 through seven home dates in 1998-99 before the ABL abruptly shut down and declared bankruptcy on December 22, 1998 midway through the league’s third season.

On the court, the Lasers posted losing records during both full ABL seasons, but still managed to sneak into the playoffs both years.  Their best performance was in the 1997-98 campaign, when they advanced to the playoff semi-finals before losing to the eventual champions, the Columbus Quest.

The ABL was a single-entity organization with league ownership of franchises and player contracts.  Similar to Major League Soccer, the ABL did allow investors to purchase operating rights to individual franchises, although few teams found such investors.  The Lasers were an exception.  Venture capitalists Joe Lacob of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers made an equity investment in the ABL in the spring of 1997 and later purchased operating rights to the Lasers shortly before the team’s second season got under way.

Following the demise of the ABL, Lacob became a minority partner in the Boston Celtics in 2006.  In 2010, a Lacob-led group acquired ownership of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors for $450 million.


==San Jose Lasers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1997-98  10/17/1997 Long Beach Stingrays L 98-91 Program




Montage from the Lasers 1996-97 inaugural season:



American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs



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