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Team and League History

June 30, 2011
     American Basketball Association logo
The American Basketball Association's co-founder and CEO, Joe Newman, issues a press release that says the ABA intends to expand to Birmingham once again. The ABA has been in the city once before, with the Birmingham Magicians in 2005. "Birmingham is one of the great cities in America that doesn't have a professional basketball team of our size," Newman said.

The new franchise will be owned by two former high school basketball teammates from John Carroll Catholic High School, Ron Steele and Artavious "Tay" Walker.

Steele was a standout student athlete at John Carroll and was a two-time Mr. Basketball before becoming a college All-American at the University of Alabama. He holds the record for the most assists in a game with 17 and graduated in 3 years with a degree in financial planning. He currently plays basketball professionally in Israel and owns his own player development business.

Walker was part of two state basketball championships during his time at John Carroll. He played basketball at Grambling State before transferring to Birmingham-Southern to play basketball and football. He graduated with a BS in Accounting and Business Administration before going into management in the food service industry. He also owns his own cleaning business. "We know basketball and know that we can have a competitive team. But we also know the business of basketball and want to make our organization one of the best in the ABA off the court. It will be a fun venture," Walker said.

However, not everyone in Birmingham is happy about Newman's announcement. Former ABA franchise owner Reginald McDaniel, who owned the Birmingham Magicians, believes he still owns the market reservation for Birmingham, not Steele and Walker. McDaniel said he was surprised at the announcement and was not contacted by the league beforehand. "I have a right to this market. Once you purchase the market, you own the market. We were considering bringing back professional basketball, but probably not in the ABA."

Newman obviously disagrees with that view and said McDaniel received a one-year grace period to resume playing. When the Magicians did not return for the 2006 season, McDaniel automatically forfeited the market. Newman said McDaniel would be readmitted into another market, if that is his desire. While he believes McDaniel is a good man, Newman thinks McDaniel's legal practice and new marriage prevented him from returning.

McDaniel said the ABA became too unstable by the end of the 2005 season. The Magicians made the playoffs their only year, despite having a 5-14 record. McDaniel noted that they played in a 10 team division that fell apart as the year progressed, finally ending up with only 3 of the teams remaining. "I never had a problem with Joe personally, unlike others, probably because I was a stable organization who he could expect would show up. The biggest problem the ABA had was a lot of people getting a team who can't afford to run them." McDaniel, a local attorney, claims he lost more than $100,000 on the Magicians. McDaniel said he knew playing in the ABA would be a risk. "We thought we'd get more support from the city and county. We figured we could make enough money on the gate to manage operations." McDaniel says he has no regrets, however. "Even though I lost money, it was an experience that was very gratifying to actually run a team. I was living my dream."

Newman said there are currently around 90 ABA franchises and new teams entering the league must pony up $10,000 to reserve their respective market. "I want them to work hard and if they do that, they'll generate revenue needed to pay for their teams. If for any reason it doesn't work out, it can't be my fault. But I do everything I can to help them because I provide the best, biggest, boldest business plan -- better than the next 30 leagues combined."

Newman claims that 75% of the team owners are black or Hispanic. "For 50 years, blacks and Hispanics have been denied an opportunity to own a professional team. I opt on the side of inclusion. If they have the right character, they can produce the revenues and expenses. It's all in how they execute it."

The ABA has known many issues since the league resumed play in 2000. One estimate reported over 50 franchises had folded since 2000.

Even so, Newman thinks the talent in the ABA is on par with many of the National Basketball Association's bench players. "We don't have anybody who can match Kobe Bryant or LeBron James or Dwayne Wade. But to even think their players 5 through 12 are better than the ABA players, that's another thing coming. Trust me. It will blow your mind how good the ABA is."

February 12, 2012
The American Basketball Association made no formal announcement, but the local team will be known as the Birmingham Blitz.

February 14, 2012
Two days prior to their opening home game, the Blitz learn their opponent, the Tampa Bay Rain, has folded. The Blitz say the game will be played and the new opponent will be the Southwest Fellowship Warriors, who hail from Atlanta.

Co-owner Tay Walker dismissed the shutdown of Tampa Bay as a fact of life in semi-pro basketball. "It's just something that happens. Some guys get in it to try to get rich. It's definitely not about getting rich. It's about helping the community. It's a challenge getting the fans out, getting all communities and backgrounds involved. I definitely think we can do it. God put me and Ronnie in this position. He called us to do this. I just believe if we can get all communities behind this, Birmingham can have something special."

Walker said the Blitz will play half of its 30 regular season games at home, in the Bill Harris Arena located at the State Fairgrounds. He said that location came about because of a barter and trade deal with the city of Birmingham. "We give a certain amount of tickets to the city for allowing us to use this arena for a tradeoff. It usually costs $2,500 to rent this. We give out tickets (that are) $5 for the kids. We gave (the city) 500 tickets so it evened out."

Another big cost is player salaries. On average, each player makes $7,500 for the season and is paid monthly. "I'm not concerned at all. Me and Ron, we have faith. We already have a budget, it's already in place. We have commitments from sponsors who'll sponsor our team in January. We already have money in the bank to take care of our financial needs starting off," Walker said.

  American Basketball Association   
Atlantic South
    Albany Shockwave
    Atlanta Aliens
    Atlanta Wildcats
    Bahama All-Pro Show
    Birmingham Blitz
    East Point Jaguars
    Gainesville Heat
    Georgia Bearcats
    Georgia Gwizzles
    Gulf Coast Flash
    Jacksonville Giants
    Savannah Grizzlies
    Southwest Fellowship Warriors
    Tampa Bay Rain

Albany Shockwave logo     Atlanta Aliens logo     Atlanta Wildcats logo     Bahama All-Pro Show logo 
 Birmingham Blitz logo   East Point Jaguars logo     Gainesville Heat logo   Georgia Bearcats logo 
 Georgia Gwizzlies logo   Gulf Coast Flash logo     Jacksonville Giants logo   Savannah Grizzlies logo 
 Southwest Warriors logo   Tampa Bay Rain logo         

November 2013
  American Basketball Association   
Division 1
Division 2
    Atlanta Wildcats     Atlanta Aliens
    Birmingham Blitz     Jacksonville Giants
    Gainesville Heat     Montgomery Blackhawks   
    Southwest Warriors        South Coast Fire
      South Florida Gold

Atlanta Aliens logo    Atlanta Wildcats logo    Birmingham Blitz logo    Gainesville Heat logo
Jacksonville Giants logo    Montgomery Blackhawks logo    South Coast Fire logo    South Florida Gold logo 
Southwest Warriors logo             

November 2014
  American Basketball Association   
Gulf Coast Division
    Birmingham Blitz
    Bowling Green Bandits
    Columbus Blackhawks
    Jackson Showboats
    Louisiana Cajun All Stars
    Memphis Lions
    Mobile Bay Tornados 

Birmingham Blitz logo    Bowling Green Bandits logo    Columbus Blackhawks logo    Jackson Showboats logo
Louisiana Cajun All-Stars logo   Memphis Lions logo   Mobile Bay Tornados logo    

November 2015
  American Basketball Association   
   Birmingham Blitz 
   Georgia Gwizzlies
   Jackson Showboats
   Louisiana Cajun All-Stars
   Mobile Bay Tornados

Birmingham Blitz logo    Georgia Gwizzlies logo    Jackson Showboats logo    Louisiana Cajun All-Stars logo
Mobile Bay Tornados logo            

The Birmingham Blitz fold at some point. No announcement was made.

Contact Gene Crowley
Last update: May 11, 2018