National Alliance of Basketball Leagues

From Academic Kids

The National Alliance of Basketball Leagues is the descendent of the industrial-based basketball clubs that formed into the National Basketball League in the early 1930s. The league was the brainchild of Indianapolis grocer Irv Kautsky, who sponsored the Indianapolis Kautskys club team, and Goodyear Tire Company, who originally sponsored the Akron Wingfoots. After a false start in the early 1930s, the league was restarted in 1938, with the Wingfoots winning the initial NBL title. By World War II, both the Wingfoots and the Firestone Tire Company's Non Skids had suspended play, but other seminal pro teams such as the Zollner Ft. Wayne Pistons, Syracuse Nationals, Rochester Royals, Minneapolis Lakers, and Tri-Cities BlackHawks all had joined.

After WWII, the fledgling Basketball Association of America was established by arena owners in large cities to try to capture the popularity of the NBL teams from the smaller communities. This attempt failed miserably as 13 of the 16 BAA teams folded. Undaunted, the remaining BAA teams, the Philadelphia Warriors, Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks convinced the top NBL teams to join with them and they formed the NBA. Thus, the early NBA was comprised mostly of teams brought over from the NBL and three BAA teams.

The remaining NBL teams reformed and changed the name to the National Industrial Basketball League (NIBL) where teams such as the Denver Truckers, Chicago Saints, Akron Wingfoots, Phillips 66ers, Peoria Cats, Philadelphia Tapers, Lexington Marathon Oilers and Cleveland Pipers thrived as club teams.

In the 1960s the league recognized the changing sponsorship of the teams away from the large industrial companies and renamed it the National AAU Basketball League (NABL). During the early 1960s the Pipers and the Tapers left to join the Hawaii Chiefs, Kansas City Steers, Los Angeles Jets and other teams to form the American Basketball League; when this venture folded, some of these teams returned to the NABL.

By the end of the 1970s the NABL teams elected to adapt touring schedules rather than league schedules and the NABL format was mothballed until it was brought back in the 1990s when many of the legendary teams had been restarted under a new wave of sponsors. Today, the NABL teams are focused on preparing post-college players for the opportunity to play FIBA pro basketball overseas.


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