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Chamberlain Joins a Group Making a Bid for NBA Franchise in Toronto

August 21, 1986|United Press International

TORONTO — Former basketball great Wilt Chamberlain joined a group of Canadian investors Wednesday in announcing a formal bid for a National Basketball Assn. franchise in the city that held the first NBA game ever played.

If approved, the multimillion-dollar venture would result in the first non-American NBA club in 40 years.

The 7-foot 1 1/2-inch Chamberlain said he was "as confident as I am tall" of building a winning club if the NBA approves the franchise.

Chamberlain and local investors said they paid a $100,000 NBA deposit and signed an agreement to base a club at Maple Leaf Gardens, home of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs.

The NBA board of governors will meet in Phoenix Oct. 20-22, and the issue of expansion is on the agenda. Also competing for franchises are groups in Minneapolis, Orange County, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., and Miami and Orlando, Fla.

The Toronto group said the NBA was considering one expansion in 1987 and possibly two in 1988. Chamberlain and the Canadians, including the son of sports magnate Harold Ballard, are almost equal partners in bidder Toronto Sports Enterprises Ltd.

Basketball was invented in 1891 by a Canadian, Dr. James Naismith. Maple Leaf Gardens was home to the first NBA game--Nov. 1, 1946, when New York defeated the Toronto Huskies, 68-66. The Huskies folded after one season in the league.

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