Enchantment Sports Staff Writer
Welcome Albuquerque to the newest edition of the American Basketball Association.
That’s right, the ABA.
If the American Basketball Association sounds familiar, it’s because of a rich historical past. You may remember Julius “Dr. J.” Erving, one of the greatest superstars that transformed the game of basketball. Maybe you remember George “Iceman” Gervin or Moses Malone? How about the University of New Mexico’s very own Mel Daniels?
If those names don’t jog your memory, then perhaps the colorful red, white, and blue ball may do the trick. The unique ball was been used by the ABA for almost half a century, and every time the red, white, and blue ball would leave a player’s shooting hand, it was hypnotic to the eyes as it would spin through the air. Youngsters today recognize the ball watching the NBA’s annual 3-pt contest, as if they have attended a Harlem Globetrotter game.
The 1967-76 ABA brought new excitement to the game of basketball. At a time when the NBA was pretty strait-laced and static, the ABA brought forth revolutionary change like the 3-point line, and dunking was king. The ABA was “Showtime” and fast break long before the Lakers coined that phrase in the 80’s. The offenses of the ABA were free-flowing, and athleticism above the rim play was the norm. Yes, the ABL was the first to use a 3-pointer in 1961. But the league folded in less than two years. and the concept was never serious considered by the NBA.
Promotion, however, was the name of the game for the ABA. In 1976 it conducted the first dunk contest. High flyers, David Thompson of the Denver Nuggets, and Dr. J. went dunk-for-dunk until the good Dr. took off from the free throw line to leave us with an unforgettable memory!
It was the revolutionary style of play in the ABA that changed the game into what it is today. Sadly, the league folded due to financial problems and lack of TV exposure, and the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and the New Jersey Nets now the Brooklyn Nets were invited to join the NBA.
The ABA came back to existence in 2000, and while it had its struggles, it continued to work hard to solidify itself into a competitive developmental league with a focus on entertainment.
And now, with solid investors coming into the league, the state of New Mexico has landed an ABA team.
Welcome to the New Mexico Bullsnakes. Los Angeles businessman Nick Lourenco brought the Bullsnakes to the Duke City last May and is hoping that the basketball-crazed fans of New Mexico will make the Bullsnakes their team.
Obviously putting together a professional sports teams has challenges, and the Bullsnakes have worked hard to overcome those challenges.
First was finding a gym to play home games. The Bullsnakes are excited to announce they have an agreement with the with the University of New Mexico for the use of Johnson Gym.
Head Coach B.B. Rico was hired and has been getting his staff together for the season that tips off in early November.
Basketball fans can go to http://gobullsnakes.com/ to see the upcoming regular season schedule as well as times and dates for exhibition games this summer and fall — as well as everything about the new pro hoop franchise.
The Bullsnakes play the Movement in an exhibition game on Saturday (Aug. 24) at 3 p.m. at the Elite Sports Academy. Ticket information in on the team’s website.
The Bullsnakes roster is starting to evolve with many former local high school stars and college basketball players chasing their professional dreams. These young men are dedicated to honing their craft for the opportunity to be get better.
Many of you will recognize some of the names on the current Bullsnake roster:
Former New Mexico Lobo and Cibola Cougar Mikal Monette will hold down the paint along with former New Mexico Highlands center 6-10 Kaylen Shane. Both bring a big presence on the post for the Bullsnakes.
The wings are to be manned by jaw-dropping high-flying former Lobo Devon Williams and New Mexico Highlands star Jordan Jones.
For Williams, this is a way to start something new.
“It’s exciting to be here from the start of this new team and bring some new excitement to Albuquerque,” says Williams. “In regards to my career, if I could play in the NBA that would be a blessing. But I’m excited to see how things go with this team.”
For Jones the former Sandia Matador, it’s a chance to chase a dream.
“The experience has been great. I’m surrounded by people that I already know through the hoop world, and I’ve played against some while I was in high school,” says Jordan. “My plan is to get a contract overseas, but my overall goal is to make it to the NBA. I have all the support in the world behind me from everyone in my family.”
The roster also includes two acrobatic former overseas pros in Lamar Morinia and Darius Hegwood. The roster also has former Eastern New Mexico star Brady Patterson and Rio Rancho star Jared Fuller, who are being counted on for shooting and defense, and Volcano Vista star Josh Holmes.
“I do all I can to contribute to this team, and try to make it special,” says Holmes. “I’m playing with players who’ve played at higher levels than I have, so it is an awesome experience to be part of this team, as well as keeping up with them.”
For businessman Lourenco, the ultimate goal for the Bullsnakes is to become an NBA G League franchise. From owner, to coaches, to players, there are plenty of dreams…
And those dreams begin right here in Albuquerque with the Bullsnakes.
Russell Gurule was born and raised in Albuquerque and is a long-time resident. He graduated from Highland High and also attended Hope Christian. Russell is a long-time observer of New Mexico Lobo and high school athletics. Logistics is his day job. Basketball and politics are his passions. To contact Russell with comments of tips, please email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com