With the entirety of pro sports in unprecedented lock-down mode, we offer some respite with a rewind back to the curiously borderline major league Continental Basketball Association (1946-2009), and one of its most successful franchises – the original Albany Patroons (1982-92).
Video production firm owner/sports doc filmmaker/Cap City native Brendan Casey (“The Minor League Mecca”) helps us trace the story arc of a team that spent ten memorable seasons punching above its weight both on and off the hardwood.
On the court, the Patroons won two CBA titles (1984, 1988), five Eastern Division crowns and complied a league-smashing 50-6 regular season record (28-0 in home games) in its penultimate season – becoming a launching pad for eventual NBA coaching standouts like Phil Jackson, George Karl and Bill Musselman. And a weigh station for notable big-league players past and future such as: Scott Brooks, Tod Murphy, Tony Campbell, Sidney Lowe, Mario Elie, Vincent Askew, and Michael Ray Richardson.
In the stands, the Pats routinely squeezed sellout crowds into the city’s 1890s-era Washington Avenue Armory – a reliably intimidating environment where Albany’s rabid fans found themselves intimately part of the action.
The team’s quick success at the gate became the aspirational force for the construction of a new region-defining 15,000-seat Knickerbocker Arena (today’s Times Union Center) in 1990 – only to see attendances dwindle and the franchise eventually drown against a backdrop of rising costs and CBA expansion.
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