Get an Albany Patroon to run your sports league

I have never shied away from my love for the long-departed Albany Patroons basketball team.  Two championships, five regular-season titles, and a slew of NBA players and coaches came from our little Continental Basketball Association team.

And today I want to take a moment and salute one of those former Patroons and his successful involvement with another pro basketball circuit.

David Magley played for the Albany Patroons during their 1983-84 championship year.  The 6’8″ small forward from Kansas spent a few weeks with the Cleveland Cavaliers organization prior to his Patroons run, then he moved on to the coaching ranks.

In 2013, Magley took over as head coach of the expansion Brampton (Ontario) A’s of the National Basketball League of Canada, where he guided the A’s to two winning seasons and long runs in the playoffs.  He put his heart and soul into the team, and his talents both on and off the court in keeping his squad focused and ready for every contest were not missed on the NBL owners.  After his two-year stint with the A’s ended, the league hired him as their new commissioner.

Magley started his commissionership with a big public relations nightmare hanging over the league like the Sword of Damocles – the 1985 championship playoff Game 7 between the Windsor Express and Halifax Rainmen that was forfeited when the Rainmen refused to play the final contest and went home.  That could have crippled the league – heck, it could have been destroyed it.

Magley immediately went to work.  He helped organize new ownership groups to take over the collapsed Halifax franchise (now known as the Hurricanes), he helped guide new expansion franchises in St. Catharines (the Niagara River Lions), Northern Ontario (the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans) and in the Maritimes (the Cape Breton Highlanders).  Over the last two seasons, attendance has increased in every single NBL market, and new expansion teams that will bolster the NBL’s nationwide footprint are on the horizon.

The league is also attracting more top-quality talent on the court.  Case in point – Royce White of the London Lightning.  Royce White was an NBA draft pick for the Houston Rockets, and although he didn’t become a superstar in the big leagues, he’s turned into a triple-double-generating monster this season for the Lightning.

Magley has been an advocate for the players and for the owners, he’s made difficult decisions that even King Solomon would struggle with.  He has worked with investor groups to help improve the local community support for their NBL hometown squads.  And by the same token, he’s spoken publicly about the success of his league – as well as of the teams, the owners and the players – to anybody who will listen.

This weekend marks the second NBL season under Magley’s commissionership, and the battles to claim the available playoff spots is tighter and more exciting than ever.  Last night, with one playoff spot on the line in the Atlantic Division (five teams in the Maritimes fighting for four available playoff spots), the Moncton Miracles held off Cape Breton 101-99, earning the New Brunswick squad a last-second return to the postseason.  Moncton’s head coach?  Former NBA player Paul Mokeski, who Magley encouraged to join into the NBL.  And not to take anything away from Cape Breton, but the Highlanders showed great strength in the community and on the court during their maiden season.

Over in the NBL’s Central Division, there’s another last-weekend battle for playoff positioning, as the Niagara River Lions and Orangeville (Ont.) A’s try to claim the last available playoff spot with a game tonight in St. Catharines.  If Orangeville wins, the A’s are playing into May.  If Niagara wins, then the A’s have to win a game on Sunday against the 34-5 London Lightning (yes, you read that, they only lost five games all year, that’s what happens when you sign Royce White to your team) to try to make the postseason.

This is exciting.

And this is part of what David Magley and his staff at the NBL have achieved.

So yeah, I’m proud that this commissioner is doing as well as he has for the National Basketball League of Canada.

Then again, I’m kinda biased.  Magley was a former member of the Albany Patroons.  And that was the time when Phil Jackson was coaching the Pats to the 1984 championship over the Wyoming Wildcatters.  Fun fun stuff.

The 2017 NBL Canada playoffs are just around the corner.  This will be an exciting playoff run for eight teams.

David Magley helped to make this possible.

And I can’t wait to see the results of his efforts.


NOTE: As a disclosure, I have worked for the past six years as a statistician and director of player clearances with the National Basketball League of Canada.  However, the words in today’s blog are of my own personal opinion and were not imparted by any other person or for any other purpose.