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CBA Temporarily Suspends Its Operations

February 09, 2001|From Associated Press

PHOENIX — The Continental Basketball Assn. temporarily suspended play Thursday, with league owner Isiah Thomas attempting to sell the teams to local groups.

"After a long and exhaustive process, the trustee for the Isiah Thomas blind trust has determined it is in the best interest of all parties concerned to return all CBA teams back to local ownership," league officials said in a statement.

The league's value plummeted when the NBA decided to operate its own developmental league rather than rely on the CBA, though the NBA extended its partnership through the current season.

The CBA said Thomas personally advanced funds to pay the players through their last games. The league said payments to non-player personnel and the resumption of the season will be determined by the local owners.

Eight of the league's 10 teams failed to meet their most recent player payrolls, and it was questionable whether they had money to travel for road games.

Thomas, the former NBA star who is now the coach of the Indiana Pacers, bought the CBA in October 1999 for slightly more than $9 million. He has been ordered by the NBA to sell the CBA before next season's training camp.

"My love of the game drove my decision to purchase the CBA," Thomas said Thursday. "I wanted to give others the chance to pursue their dreams of playing in the NBA.

"It is the decision of the blind trust for the CBA to revert to local ownership. Though disappointing to me personally, the decision allows basketball to continue in the cities that have supported the CBA for many years."

Thomas could not comment further because of his arrangement with the trust.

The Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette, citing a league source, reported that two parties interested in buying franchises walked out of the negotiations. The CBA, in its 55th season, apparently is nearly $1.5 million in debt.

Recent talks centered on the International Basketball League acquiring the larger CBA.

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