Couple of things to note here. I am a long-time fan of the Albany Patroons basketball team. I am also a league statistician for the National Basketball League of Canada, and have been for the past decade.
Which makes March 31, 2022 a very special day for me.
This year, the NBL Canada will play an interlocking series with teams from the Patroons’ current circuit, the TBL (The Basketball League). TBL teams will play NBL Canada teams, in what will be the NBL’s first games against American squads, and the NBL’s first road games played on American soil.
The Patroons are part of this interleague series, even though they’re only playing one contest in the TBL matchup.
But oh, what an opponent to snag. The NBL’s four-time league champion London (Ont.) Lightning are coming to the Washington Avenue Armory.
That’s right. Four NBL Canada championships. No other NBL Canada team has more than two titles.
Oh, and there’s plenty of Patroons history with the Lightning. Former Patroons player and head coach Micheal Ray Richardson coached the Lightning for three seasons, including the team’s first two NBL Canada titles. Former Patroons Marvin Phillips, Deandre Thomas and Xavier Moon also wore the gold and black for the Lightning, just so you know.
Yeah, this is big. Very big.
Follow me here on this. The history is kinda complicated. And we have to go back to the Patroons’ second stint of existence, from 2005 to 2009.
At that time, the Patroons were part of the Continental Basketball Association, which had operated as an independent pro basketball circuit for over 60 years. But the CBA was struggling. The NBA had created its own league, the NBA Developmental League (now known as the NBA Gatorade League), while other minor league circuits, like the American Basketball Association and the Premier Basketball League, horned in on the CBA’s turf.
The CBA folded in 2009. Meanwhile, the PBL established a bit of a footprint in the Northeast and in Atlantic Canada. But eventually, the Canadian teams broke away from the PBL, and formed the National Basketball League of Canada, with teams spread from Newfoundland to Ontario.
From 2013 to 2015, former NBA player and former Albany Patroon forward David Magley was a coach in the NBL; from 2015 to 2017, he was the league’s Commissioner. After his term ended in 2017, he returned to the United States, and formed what was then known as the North American Premier Basketball League (NAPB), with former PBL teams and new franchises – including the third iteration of the Albany Patroons – in the mix.
After one season, the NAPB rebranded itself as the TBL (The Basketball League), and still operates today.
Now, does this NBL-TBL interleague series portend something in the future? Well, who knows? The only thing we do know for sure is that there will be games played between both leagues for the 2011-22 season.
And that the Patroons will be back in action this spring at the Washington Avenue Armory.
And on March 31, 2022 … they’re hosting the London Lightning. O Canada played in a former American military munitions depot. And a franchise that has won four NBL Canada championships takes on a team with three different championship titles spread over two different leagues.
Yeah, hold my calls on March 31st, 2022. I’m unavailable. Do not disturb, man.
I’m definitely good with this.