Wednesday, February 09, 2005

No More Reign

Emmert: The Reign is over

The Tribune

Terry Emmert, the main supporter of the Portland Reign for the past three months, says he’s through with the American Basketball Association team, which has effectively shut down.

Emmert made overtures to buy the team from a group of seven owners, but those efforts failed, he says, due mostly to the indecision of the ownership group, led by local entrepreneur Mary Liss.

“Dealing with that group was like managing a day-care center,” Emmert says. “It was very frustrating.”

Repeated phone calls to Liss went unreturned.

The ABA expanded from seven teams to more than 30 before this season, which began in November and runs through March. The Reign wanted to play its home games at the Oregon Convention Center but changed those plans just a week before its Nov. 18 opener. Instead, the Reign played home games at Warner Pacific College in Southeast Portland.

Emmert, who owns Emmert International in Clackamas and is developing a resort in Mazatlan, Mexico, says he stepped in and funded the team’s expenses, including salaries and living quarters for those players who came from out of town.

The Reign might have survived, Emmert says, had their primary player, South Korean center Ha Seung-Jin, stayed with the team through the season. But Ha joined the Trail Blazers in late December.

While the Reign may have faded, Emmert’s idea of owning a team in Portland has not. He says he’s looking into both the ABA and the International Basketball League, which will begin playing in April and has a team in Vancouver, Wash. Emmert also has the ABA rights to a team in Mazatlan.

“I have nothing but respect for the guys on the team,” Emmert says of the Reign players, who included former Wilson High guard Charles McKinney and former Benson Tech standout Robert Day. “They were great role models for our community. I wish it could have worked out better, especially for them.”

I went to 2 Reign games during their brief stay in Portland. It was fun to watch. The players worked hard without the egos you see in the NBA. I hope minor league ball comes back to Portland soon. The Blazers appear to have shed their bad boy image, but it has been replaced by a continuing soap opera that our local press blows out of all proportion.

Speaking of local press, I think the Portland Tribune deserves credit for covering the Reign (a local pro sports team) and their games. The Oregonian only covered them when they had a story about financial problems. I wish I knew why they didn't see fit to at least print some scores in between little league scores and news of the hockey strike. All I can say is Go Trib! for supporting the local community.


thehim said...

I'd love to see minor-leagues like this eventually replace college basketball altogether. I was at Michigan during the Fab Five years, and the corruption that goes on to have a winning team is ridiculous. Colleges can keep their teams, but it should be optional whether or not the players decide to be students there as well. (and they should be paid the equivalent of what minor-leaguers in other sports get)

The Moody Minstrel said...

Considering the corruption that goes on in the NBA, how can you really expect college basketball to keep its nose clean?