Hoop dreams in a baseball town

by Brian Clarey

It’s probably a good idea to keep an open mind when it comes to the Triad’s newest professional sports venture, an American Basketball Association franchise to be named the Triad Tre4 Cheetahs, one of three expansion teams planned for North Carolina. Joining them will be the Triangle Carolina Jaguars and the Eastern Carolina Cougars. That last should have been run through the Urban Dictionary being greenlighted.

We keep an open mind, even though this is not the same ABA that introduced us to Dr. J, the Ice Man and Moses Malone, and brought the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets to the NBA when the two leagues merged in 1976. The new ABA, which played its first season in 2000, has no affiliation with the old league. It’s more of a developmental league, with no TV coverage, no marketable stars and more than 60 teams playing in nine divisions this season. They still use the red, white and blue basketballs, though We keep an even mind even though, minor-league baseball and roller derby notwithstanding, professional sports in the Triad have not exactly floored us over the last decade or so.

Arena football. Minor-league hockey. Soccer. Arena football again.

Women’s football. In fact, even the ABA has planted its flag here in the

We’ve been burned before. Virtually every professional sports team that has started here since 2005

Triad before — and it wasn’t very long ago. The Winston-Salem Storm began a 30-game schedule in November 2008 but had ceased operations by Dec, 2 of that year.

And that’s the thing: We’ve been burned before. Virtually every professional sports team that has started here since YES! Weekly began publication in January 2005 — again, excepting minor league baseball and also the Carolina Phoenix women’s football team — has unceremoniously folded.

We’ve noticed the failure rate is particularly high among teams that charge players and cheerleaders to try out for the respective squads. The Tre4 Cheetahs, by charging $125 or $150 at the door — put themselves in bad company.

It wouldn’t bother us so much if we didn’t care. Most of us here are sports fans, even if only during the playoffs or tournaments, and we’d love for the Triad to have a team in an exciting, dynamic league, a team capable of building a legacy here.

The Greensboro Grasshoppers and Winston-Salem Dash are examples of sports franchises that have endured and indeed, become parts of the fabric of their respective communities.

But the Prowlers, the Revolution and Monarchs are forgotten footnotes in Greensboro’s history, while few in Winston-Salem remember the Energy, the Ice Hawks, the Polar Twins, the Cyclones or the Wildcats.

Maybe basketball is different — there certainly is no shortage of talent in North Carolina, and plenty of fans of the game to give it a go. So we’re keeping an open mind, and wishing the Triad Tre4 Cheetahs a winning first season.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration