by Scott Agness – Follow Scott
There’s a new professional sports team in Indianapolis.
No, I’m not referring to the Indy Eleven, nor the Indy Fuel. Instead, it’s another basketball organization.
The American Basketball Association (ABA) has made its way back to Indianapolis with familiar ownership and what they believe is a sustainable business plan. It’s the Indy Naptown All-Stars, and they tip-off their debut season on Nov. 8. The team plays 33 games, including 16 at home.
The ABA was founded in 1967. The Indiana Pacers, which began as an ABA team, dominated the league until its merger with the NBA in 1976. Led by Hall of Famers Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, and under the direction Hall of Fame coach Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard, the ABA Pacers won titles in 1970, 1972, and 1973. They absolutely owned the ABA era.
In the last decade, the ABA has tried to make its grand return to the Circle City, only to fail, pack up, and go away.
Joe Newman, the co-founder of the second coming of the ABA in 2000, formed the Indiana Legends. They played home games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and then moved to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for their second season. But then they folded after just over two years.
Newman’s daughter, Susan Packard, co-owns the Indy Naptown All-Stars along with her close friend Jerri Rines.
Gathered in the Murat Shrine-Tunisian Room a few weeks before the inaugural year, the leaders of this franchise spoke highly about their team, mission to draw interest in a basketball-crazed state, and partner with the community.