Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Make sure you scroll all the way through as there are some links and resources to give you even more information on the Albany Patroons. Thank you and enjoy!
When you talk about professional sports in New York, the talk usually leads to names like the Knicks, Yankees, Mets, and even the Nets. The Albany Patroons, however, make a case to be in the conversation. The 2019 TBL champions have a long history of championships and a winning culture that was built by some of the all-time greats of basketball.
In the late 70s and early 80s, Albany was looked at as a city trying to reach the scale level of other cities in New York. One thing that big cities have are professional sports teams. However, at the time, there were no professional teams representing New York’s capital district of Albany. This left the people of Albany craving for a team they could cheer for that was a little closer to home.
Formed in 1982, the Patroons were made to be the first professional sports team of Albany. Jim Coyne, the Patroons’ president at the time, saw an opportunity to fulfill his dream of building a sports franchise in this mid-sized market.
The Patroons, playing in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), settled into the Washington Avenue Armory, which was known for hosting sellout wrestling events of the WWF (now WWE). With a capacity of around four-thousand people, this was nowhere near the levels of the NBA arenas. However, what it lacked in size, the Armory made up for in its atmosphere. The Patroons were able top the league in fan attendance in their first season; this showed the love the people of Albany had for the team and the city.
At first, the enthusiasm of the fans was reciprocated by a mediocre season and a team that looked confused. This all changed when Coyne hired a former NBA player, now coach, Phil Jackson. This came at a perfect time; it came when the league was trying to market itself differently by bringing in more NBA veterans. Jackson’s philosophy of rotation and team basketball was enormously different to the way the team was playing the season before. Jackson wanted to bring to the franchise a culture of playing basketball the right way, and eventually winning championships the right way. This philosophy he took with him, and as we all know, worked out pretty well.
After the departure of Phil Jackson, management had no hesitation on hiring a coach who was Jackson and the teams rival in the past few seasons. Bill Musselman, in contrast to Jackson, set up his teams in a way that revolved around star players. He was very well connected to agents around the NBA and even around Europe. While Jackson was happy to let his players go on in their careers, and work with what the team had, Musselman knew he needed the best players in order to be the best and he was always looking for those "best" players. Two notable players he brought in for his first season were Rick Carlisle and Tony Campbell. Carlisle was a champion with the Celtics in 86’ and Campbell was drafted twentieth overall by the Detroit Pistons; both players ended up back in the NBA because of their success with the Patroons.
Musselman eventually left Albany to go to the NBA and coach a new franchise at the time, the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was replaced by George Karl, who was known for being a winner. Karl continued that tradition of trying to match the standard of the NBA, and he eventually moved on to coach in the NBA as well.
Prior to the CBA’s bankruptcy and eventually ceasing operations in 2001, the team rebranded and moved cities; they eventually folded along with the league. With a return to Albany in 2005, both the Patroons and the CBA folded due to economic reasons. In 2018, the Patroons returned to the Armory to play in the North American Premier Basketball League. This marks the fourth consecutive year in a row that the Albany Patroons are back in action. At the sudden stoppage of play in the 2020 TBL season due to COVID19, the Patroons were tied for 5th in the league with the Columbus Condors with a record of 6-3. Once the 2021 season kicks off you will be able to see this historic team compete in their 3rd year in The Basketball League, as they hunt for their second league championship under current head coach, Derrick Rowland.
This piece was written by Enrique Ortiz, a common contributor for Globally Ballin. This piece is the first article of the "Who Are They" series. An article series that takes a look at all the teams in The Basketball League from a fresh set of eyes. Each piece in this series will be out and available on the website every Tuesday, enjoy!
ALSO - Below are links that will take you to two video interviews we did at the 2019 TBL Draft Combine. One interview was with head coach, Derrick Rowland, and the other interview was with the team owner, Dr. Tim Maggs. These videos are a part of the Globally Ballin Patreon page. So, if you are not already subscribed, a subscription may be required. Click the links to find out and learn more, enjoy!