The World Basketball association was started in 2000 as the brainchild of now commissioner Rondall Reynoso. The League began with 22 teams from 4 different continents.
In 2001, teams took one of three approaches to the season. The first approach was to concede the season and look to the future. Teams like Gabon compiled an astonishing number of losses with this approach. The second approach was to go for it all that season with little thought of the future. Los Angeles is the best example of this as they traded away 3 years of picks to acquire the most impressive line-up in the league. The third was a mix of the two. Teams like London had a mix of age and youth and had very successful seasons.
The season was interesting as it quickly became clear that all the power was in the West. Los Angeles set the league’s record with 54 wins in just 62 games an amazing 87%. This is especially impressive considering how tough the West was. As a group, they won 13% more games than the East. The West only had 3 teams with losing records.
The young center Jim McCarthy of Cincinnati established himself as a true star by claiming the scoring title. The front court of Brooklyn accomplished an amazing feat when center Joe Siebert claim the rebounding title followed closely by teammate John Davis. Siebert also led the league in blocks which helped him claim the title of defensive player of the year. Curtis Brides from Sydney was the league MVP.
The play-offs were crazy. LA was expected to dominate after having such a great season, but it didn’t happen that way. They lost to Fernie 4 games to 2. Fernie surprised everybody by winning the West in impressive fashion. The East went pretty much as expected with London heading to the finals. Once the Finals started Fernie Continued their surge taking a 3-0 lead. London fought back but Fernie closed it out in game 6 to become the first-ever WBA champions.
The second WBA season was about the polarity of strong and weak. There were seven teams that finished the season with 60 or more wins and 10 teams with less than 30 wins. Brooklyn set a new wins record with 67 wins and Gabon tied their previous wins low of nine. The WBA’s first rookies also had a big impact. The list of household names drafted this season is too long to list. The most notable of the group though was clearly Wayne Taylor. A. J. Schulz also had one of the best rookie seasons that the WBA has seen averaging 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.6 steals.
There was a real transition in power as Los Angeles was hit with player retirements and went from the pride of the WBA to a 21 win team. Boston was a team that used the strong draft to go from a 14 win season to a 66 win season.
Despite all the other interesting events in this season, Season two will be remembered for one thing: Expansion. The WBA expanded from 22 to 28 teams and expanded the season from 62 to 80 games.
Boom-Boom Casey who was second in the league in scoring during Season 1 raised his scoring average to 32.3 in Season 2 and took the scoring title. Rookie Paul Wilson showed his rebounding talent when he led the league with 15.18 rebounds a game. Cincinnati had an interesting accomplishment with three players averaging over three steals a game. Rich Johnson, Steve Peterson and Bert Latham finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively with 3.69, 3.66 and 3.14 steals.
As had happened the previous year, this season’s play-offs were full of surprises. The biggest surprise was the 3-2 first-round elimination of Brooklyn by Albacete. Brooklyn had finished the season with the best record in the league and Albacete was not only an 8th seed but an expansion team. Bill Blackstone had a terrific post-season leading Albacete with 25 points and fellow rookie and future all-star Harry Jarvis averaged 20. Unfortunately, for these new giant-killers, they were not able to keep it up for a second series and London swept them in four games. London was then in turn swept by a Boston franchise which was lead by rookie Bill Yeager who averaged over 26 points and 11 rebounds during Boston’s play-off run.
Roswell was the team out of the West to reach the Finals. Roswell was the third seed in the West and had battled through two seven-game series against Colorado and Cincinnati respectively, only to fall in seven games to Boston.
2003 began something special. For the first time in league history, a team eclipsed the 70 win mark. Colorado finished the season with an amazing 73-7 record, setting new records for both the number of wins and the winning percentage. Interestingly, four teams out of the East finished with over 60 wins, Brooklyn leading the group with their second straight 67 win season. But, these team’s impressive performances are little more than a footnote in the collective mind of the WBA. At the same time as these teams played so well, there were three teams that didn’t even manage to put together 10 wins. Bermuda, Varese, and Myrtle Beach put together 8, 5, and 8 wins respectively. Bermuda finished the season with a frightening 17 game losing streak.
Not surprisingly, Colorado had the league’s top offense with 114.8 points per game and had the third-ranked defense. Brooklyn had the league’s top defense only allowing 86.3 points per game. Bermuda allowed an amazing 117.4 points per game. Boom-Boom Casey took his second straight scoring title averaging 30.2 points per game. Paul Wilson took his second rebounding title with an improved average of 16.3 per game and Chuck Henderson also took his second assist title with an impressive 16 assists per game. Henderson also led the league in steals with 3.59 a game. Rookie of the year Lou Gonzales led the league with 4.85 blocks per game.
Once again the team with the best record in the league did not win the Championship. Despite such an impressive regular season, Colorado lost in the second round (4-3) to Tokyo, led by Rookie Defensive machine Lou Gonzales. Brooklyn on the other hand shook off their horrible play-off history and dominated play in the Eastern Conference blasting past Baltimore, Boston, and Washington with only two losses. The finals were a match-up between Tokyo and Brooklyn but there was not much of a contest as Brooklyn easily beat them 4-1.
Despite the disappointment, Lou Gonzales, commonly known as Gonzo, showed the type of player he would become as he finished the play-offs averaging 22.8 points (58.7% FG), 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 5.5 blocks, and 1.8 steals. Brooklyn on the other hand used their depth to win the championship with 8 players making huge contributions featuring such notable players off the bench as Shane Strom, Al Zarra, and J.J. McCauley.
2004 saw huge changes for both of the league’s top regular-season teams from the previous season. Colorado dealt away Boom-Boom Casey and Brooklyn lost John Davis in free agency and dealt away Ozzie Kramer, still though both teams stayed at the tops of their conferences. Brooklyn had their third straight 60 win season with 64 wins and Colorado amazingly had their second straight 70 win season going 70-10. This amazing feat required 13 straight wins from Colorado to end the season. The new league laughing stock was Sydney, 7-73, which ended the season with 26 straight losses.
Colorado once again led the league in scoring with 112.7 points a game. Nebraska was the new top defense holding their opponents to 88.9 points per game. Boom-Boom Casey, now with Washington, was in a different system that did not feature him as much and his scoring average dropped by 10 points. This left room for youngster, then 19, Wayne Taylor, to win his first scoring title averaging 26.3 points a game, barely edging out John Greene’s 26.2 points per game. Paul Wilson won his third straight rebounding title with another year over 16 boards. John Davis, now out of Joe Siebert’s shadow in New York was second in the league with 14.34 rebounds per game. Chuck Henderson also grabbed his third straight assists title though his average dropped to 11.9 per game. Henderson also once again led the league with steals and Gonzo for the second season led the league in blocks with an astounding 5.64 blocks per game.
Once again, Colorado met with frustration as they lost in the first round to the Tom Perkins led Montana Knights. Brooklyn also met the same fate as they lost 3-2 in the first round to Dave Williams and the Rochester Blaze. With both top teams out of the playoffs in the first round, the field was wide open.
Cincinnati rose out of the West and Washington out of the East. Cincinnati had finished the season with 58 wins and Washington with 61 wins so despite the losses of the two favorites the fans were still in for some great basketball. Boom-Boom Casey had changed teams and taken on a new role but for the first time, he was able to win a championship as Washington edged Cincinnati 4-2. Ozzie Kramer who had also won a championship the previous season was also able to get another one this year.
The impossible happened! Colorado had their third straight 70 win season. The second shocking event was that Brooklyn for the first time in league history didn’t win the Mid-Atlantic conference. This season also saw the competitiveness of the league increase with no teams finishing with fewer than 17 wins. Prior to this, there had always been a team to finish in single digits. The most notable trade of the year was the Cancun and Washington trade that sent Parker Mason to Cancun and Jimmy Foster to Washington. The trade worked out well for both teams as Washington won the division title for the first time and Cancun for the first time emerged as an elite team.
For the third season in a row, Colorado led the league in scoring with 113.2. Budapest became a defensive juggernaut holding their opponents to 88.9 points. Youngster Wayne Taylor was not able to hold on to the scoring title and despite averaging an impressive 25.1 points he finished fifth. Rochester’s Dave Williams who had been a second-round draft pick in Season 3 won the title with 26.9 points per game. It was a close race with Harry Jarvis, Boom-Boom Casey, and George Holt all averaging at least 26 points. Paul Wilson once again won the rebounding title, that’s four straight, with an average of 14.4 rebounds per game. Chuck Henderson also kept his streak alive winning his fourth assists title with 13.2 assists per game and he also for the third consecutive year leading the league with 3.87 steals… Lou Gonzales for the third straight year led the league in blocks (4.71).
Unlike the previous year, the top teams all advanced to the second round. The one notable exception was Brooklyn who for the third time in four years lost in the first round. Colorado plowed through the first three rounds without a single loss proving beyond any doubt that they were the best team in the West. In the East, London swept Rochester holding Dave Williams to 18 points per game on 33% shooting. Washington, the other Division winner, also looked strong beating Boston 3-1. In the second round, London was barely able to squeeze past Budapest who had already knocked off Brooklyn in the first round, but the inexperienced Washington team fell to Albacete. Then in the Conference finals, London dominated Albacete 4-1. With a 65 win season and an 11-4 play-off record London felt confident heading into the Finals. Colorado however was just too strong winning the series 4-1 and posting a record-setting post-season record of 15-1.
And the Mighty Fall! After three straight 70 win seasons and a championship, Colorado made some major moves to prepare for the future. They lost Bobby Cress, Kevon Duke, and Cristobol Dasheer all of whom had been large parts of their championship and in return, they ended up with some promising but unproven rookies. As a result, they went from 71 victories to 34. In the West Boston stepped up as the clear leader with 69 victories and an 18 game win streak to end the season. Washington was the second-best regular season team in the West taking the Mid-Atlantic Division with 59 victories.
With the demise of Colorado, Boston now had the best offense in the league with 110.5 points per game. Budapest once again had the best defense holding their opponents to 90 points per game. Young Wayne Taylor regained the scoring title with one of the best offensive outputs the league has ever seen with 31.6 points per game. Dave Williams had also raised his average to 28.2 but it wasn’t enough to repeat. Wilson and Henderson again repeated with the rebounding and assist leads, 14.27 & 13.2 respectively. For the Fourth time, Lou Gonzales led the league with 4.57 blocks but for the first time, he had some legitimate competition from the upstart Arnold Eaton who finished the season with an average of 4.18. Rookie Lonnie Gerson also made a big splash as he came into the league and averaged 4.09 steals beating out the three-time leader Chuck Henderson.
The race in the East was quite competitive with Washington and Boston both making strong showings. In the Conference Finals, Boston barely outlasted Washington winning 4-3 in Boston. The West however was a different story. Colorado had left a large hole to be filled and Cancun was eager to fill the hole. They went 11-2 in their conference and obviously felt very confident heading into the finals. And they should have, they continued their blistering play smashing Boston 4-1.
The WBA continues to become more and more competitive. This is especially true of the top teams. Despite the improved quality of the lower teams there were still nine teams that finished with 50 or more wins. Albacete seemed to be the clear team to beat finishing with 69 wins a full ten wins ahead of the next best team. Oregon had the biggest drop from 56 wins the season before to 25 wins this season. There was one simple reason for the rise of Albacete and the fall of Oregon- Lou Gonzales: Gonzo! Oregon traded him to Albacete for Michael Kutak and a bunch of picks.
The trio of Lou Gonzales, Harry Jarvis, and Bobby Cress instantly made Albacete the top offense. They finished the season averaging 113.3 points per game. Brooklyn re-emerged as the premiere defensive team in the league but the league is getting more and more offensively oriented so despite being the best defense in the league they still allowed 96.1 points per game. Taylor once again took the scoring title averaging 30.6 points per game with Williams close behind with 30.3 points. Paul Wilson took his amazing sixth straight rebounding title and Chuck Henderson took his sixth straight assists title. Gonzales took on a slightly different role in Albacete and blocked many fewer shots. As a result, there was a very tight race for the blocks title but it finally went to Arnold Eaton. Rookie Omar Jefferson was overwhelmed in his role as starting point guard for Oregon and he led the league with 3.97 turnovers per game. There was also a very competitive race for the steals leader but it finally went to long time defensive threat John Greene.
Going into the play-offs there were really only two teams that the press was talking about- Cancun, the defending Champs, and Albacete who was the regular-season force. As expected, these are the two teams that ended up in the finals. They entered the finals with similar post-season experiences both of them had to go to the seventh game of the conference finals to even get to the finals but once they got there Albacete showed what they had been waiting to prove all season long. They were the best team in the league and polished off Cancun in four games.
Colorado finished the regular season with a record of 64 wins and 16 losses. The only team in the league with more than 60 wins. Colorado accomplished this feat with a boost from the sixth man, their fans. The Pioneers did not have an all-star that led the league in stats, but only 4 home losses for the season speaks for itself.
Six teams were close enough to be considered the elite group up with Colorado. Albacete and Brooklyn both finished the season with 59 wins. Brooklyn is another team that relied on the home-court advantage to compile the W’s. Shane Strom is the clear leader of this team, but a meager 5 losses in front of the home fans tells the story. Albacete was led by the scoring machine known as Harry Jarvis, but the true story lies with their team defense. The Burning Hell held their opponents to a league-leading low of 94.8 points.
Cancun was the fourth division winner besides the three teams previously mentioned. The Outlaws finished with 55 wins and led the league in offense averaging over 110 points per contest. Although, they accomplished this with the league-leading steals guy in Lonnie Gerson and the league’s second-best blocker with Kent Mercer.
Oregon and Washington would round out the “elite” teams, but appear to be a notch back from the above with only 50 and 49 wins respectively. Oregon is led by Lou Gonzalez the most efficient shooter in the league who was also able to block over 5 shots per contest. A center with all the offensive moves in and out of the paint led the league shooting 64%. Gonzalez is almost allergic to a rebound for a Center, but with Cory Mosely leading the league with over 12 a night, he is forgiven. Washington was all about teamwork. A team without a standout, but every member willing to do the little things and aggressive when getting to the line.
Other teams of note, include Nebraska who boasted the number one and two scorers in the league with Wayne Taylor and Dave Williams but finished a disappointing 47 and 33. The Virgin Islands are not proud when they hear the word, offense, scoring an abysmal league-worst of fewer than 85 points per game. Compared with a New York team playing a matador-style defense allowing opponents almost 108 points per contest.
The big surprise in the first round was the early exit for Washington. Birmingham, seeded 6th, ended Washington’s hopes for 2009. The other five “elite” teams advanced to the second round. Again Birmingham shocked the WBA world by beating the top seed in the east. Albacete was toppled prematurely despite their defense placing them as a favorite to go to the big dance. The Conference Finals saw Cancun end what Colorado thought was their year and Birmingham’s Cinderella story come to a crashing halt when they met the seconded seeded Brooklyn. Cancun was crowned as champions over Brooklyn, due to superb coaching and chemistry.
League competitiveness continues to improve. This season there were eight teams that finished the season with at least 50 wins and only one team that finished the season with less than 20 wins. Cancun and Washington each finished the league with over 60 wins; Cancun was the best going 65-15. Cancun’s team was deep and talented, led by Kent Mercer and Parker Mason. Colorado took a step back from leading the Western Conference to finishing third in the Pacific Division. The East’s three best teams Washington, Brooklyn, and Budapest all showed improvement over the previous year. The Washington vs. Brooklyn rivalry was becoming legendary with the two teams finishing first and second in their division for seven straight years This year Washington had the advantage the previous year Brooklyn did.
Oregon finished the season with the top offense averaging 110.6 and Cancun had the top defense allowing 97.4. But, Cancun also had the #2 offense at 110.2 while Oregon was only #14 defensively. Wayne Taylor continued to lead the league in scoring averaging 30. 2 points in Nebraska. Though due to injury Emmett Yee scored more total points. Corey Mosley from Oregon also once again led the league in rebounds at 11.86. Yuri Vilasny led the league in assists per game at 13.0 but he missed 13 games due to injury allowing Brandon Sandler to compile the most total assists for the year. Gonzo, for the 6th time, led the league in Blocks and Boddy Egan accomplished something truly amazing averaging 4.8 steals in only 22 minutes.
The first round of the playoffs went exactly as expected with the favored team winning every matchup. The only upset of the second round was Brooklyn falling in seven games to Budapest. The conference finals also went as expected even if they were more one-sided than anticipated. Both matches ended 4-1 with Washington besting Budapest and Cancun besting Nebraska. The finals saw the two teams with 60+ wins facing each other. Cancun finished the regular season with the best record and finished of Washington in five games giving them their second straight title.
This season was very different. In the East, there was only one team to finish with at least 50 wins. That was Albacete with exactly 50. The Western Conference, on the other hand, had six teams with 50 wins and the three best, Colorado, Oregon, and Texas, all tied at 60-20. Washington kept their big three of Emmett Yee, Boom-Boom Casey, and A.J. Schulz but they lost Leo Rice and Kadeem Reed in moves that were meant to future-proof the team. Brooklyn took a similar approach as they lost JustinKrueger to free agency and traded Tom Perkins for Jarius Miles. This gave them the young trio of Mario Bailey, Omar Jefferson, and Jarius Miles to build around. They still had stars Shane Strom and Joe Siebert but they dropped for the first time to a sub .500 team.
Oregon, once again, was the best offensive team in the league, by almost five points, and Budapest the best defensive team. Wayne Taylor, once again, had the best scoring average in the league at 27.5 but he missed seven games allowing Samir Sheth to have the most total points. Mosley and Vilasny also both continued to lead the league in rebounds and assists respectively. Charles Cushman was the new leader in blocks at 3.78 per game. Bobby Egan once again was a miracle worker in the steals department averaging 4.77.
The first round of the postseason was chock-full of surprises. In the West, Colorado had won 60 games but fell decidedly to Wayne Taylor and Nebraska. In the East, Baltimore which didn’t even have a winning season beat top see Albacete leaving the East without a team in the playoffs that even won 50 games while three of the Western teams beat that mark. Nebraska, the Western team with the worst remaining record won 48 which was equal to the best remaining Eastern team and they had managed to knock off 60 win Colorado. It didn’t look good for the East. Rounds two went as expected in the West with the two remaining 60 win teams, Oregon and Texas, emerging- Though Nebraska did take Oregon to seven games. In the East, Rochester and Budapest each won their series in six and five games respectively. In the Conference Finals, it was a surprise that Oregon swept Texas, not that they won but it was surprising to see a battle of 60 win juggernauts so lopsided. Budapest, in the East, beat Rochester in five games. The finals were rather lackluster as Oregon swept Budapest 4-0.
With a realignment and several teams moving this season, there was a big shake-up in the WBA. The biggest move was the Texas franchise moving to Paris and changing from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference. This meant a 60 win team from the West moved to the much weaker East. Unsurprisingly, their win total rose to 69. Another big move from the West to the East was Montana moving to Long Island. But, their rise from 32 wins to 62 wasn’t just because of the move…. or was it? Most of their rotation was actually the same. The easier schedule no doubt helped but also Oliver Doherty emerged as a legitimate scoring force leading the team with over 21 points per game an increase of 7 points accompanied by a 9% increase in FG percentage. Another big change in the East was the break-up of the Brooklyn v. Washington rivalry as Washington changed ownership and moved to Arkansas. The West ended up losing two of the six teams that won 50+ games the previous year but Nebraska was on the rise so there were still five Western teams that won 50+ games and only two in the East, both of which had been in the West the previous year.
Oregon continued to be the league’s offensive juggernaut averaging 113.6 points per game. Arkansas, the former proud Washington franchise, were the worst offense in the league only scoring 93.4 a game. Cancun had allowed Budapest to top them as the top defense the previous year but Kent Mercer and Parker Mason are proud defenders who along with Lonnie Gerson worked hard to regain the mantle. Jaxon McCall on the emerging Sacramento Fighting Cocks won the scoring title averaging 26.9 per game. Dave Troychak of Miami also averaged 26.9 but had fewer total points. Corey Mosley won another rebounding title but now played for the hapless Alaska franchise. Vilasny once again led in assists. Sacramento also had the league’s top shot-blocker in John Van Horne and the league’s best steals man in Bobby Egan. Despite that, they only won 39 games.
The big series in the first round of the playoffs was 4th seed Colorado vs. 5th seed Nebraska. The two teams won 55 and 52 games respectively. Wayne Taylor averaged 34 points per game in the series to lift Nebraska over Colorado but he was then injured and missed the rest of the playoffs. In the East, the big upset was 40 win Budapest knocking off 62 win Long Island in the first round. Round two of the playoffs went exactly as expected. The Conference Finals in the East were an easy sweep for Paris over Budapest. In the West though, the powerhouses of Oregon and Cancun, both with 62 wins, met in an epic battle. Cancun had swept both of their previous series so many commentators gave them the edge. But, in a seven game series, Oregon survived for their second straight finals appearance. Oregon was in for another fight against Paris, the teams with the best record in the WBA. Oregon was able to prevail in another seven game grudge match earning their second straight championship.
Most of the WBA talent still existed within the Western Conference but there was some emerging greatness in the Eastern Conference. Oregon retailed the starting line-up of Bishop Stein, Lou Gonzales, Marquez Houston, Ian Tilmon, and Cory Mosley. With that stacked lineup they were considered the favorite, especially coming off two straight championships. They did not disappoint in the regular season compiling an impressive 62 wins. That was their third season in a row over 60 wins and matched their previous year total. Cancun and Capetown however also had great years both passing 60 wins. The previous year Cancun also had 62 wins but fell to Oregon in the playoffs. Cancun had a chip on their collective shoulders and managed to surpass Oregon with 63 wins. The Eastern Conference once again had two teams with 60 wins. Paris dropped from the previous year’s 69 but still had an impressive 63. Brooklyn, however, replaced Long Island as the other 60 win team. Matching the previous year’s champion with 62 wins. What was disappointing for WBA fans to see was that there were two teams that failed to even reach 20 wins. Alaska, a long time struggling franchise, reached only 18 wins and Mexico City only compiled 19 wins.
Oregon continued to be the league’s offensive powerhouse. They averaged 110.2 points. Brooklyn surprised many observers by climbing to #2 but with 106.2 points per game, they were still well behind Oregon. Paris was the league’s new best defense only allowing 90.5 points per game. Dave Williams of Rochester won the scoring title averaging 28.5 points per game. Oregon’s Cory Mosley continued his domination of the boards averaging 13.17 rebounds and Yuri Vilasny continued his dominance in the assists category averaging 12.9 assists per game. Lou Gonzales led in Blocks and Bobby Egan in Steals. So, more of the same.
The playoffs looked a lot like the previous year. Cancun made a strong push in the West but ultimately, 63 wins or not, they fell to Oregon who returned to the Finals for the third straight year. In the East, Brooklyn made it to the conference finals. Something they hadn’t managed to do since before their rebuild. But, the young Brooklyn team was no match for Paris and fell convincingly 4-1. This meant that Oregon and Paris were to meet once again in the Finals. Once again, it was a seven-game battle of Titans. However, in the end, a new team emerges as the WBA champions. Paris ended the run of one of the WBA’s all-time great dynasties. Bishop Stein scored 41 points trying to elevate his team but Paris pulled out a 116-113 victory in game seven. That was their largest lead of the game as they came back from a 19 point deficit.
The WBA is increasingly becoming a league of the haves and the have-nots. There were 8 teams that finished this season with at least 50 wins and six teams that didn’t even make it to 30 wins. But, at least the two conferences are evening out. While five of the 50 win teams were in the Western Conference, there were only 40+ win teams in the conference. The East had only three of the 50 win teams but they had eight teams that finished with at least 40 wins. Alaska continued to be the laughing stock of the WBA barely reaching double digits with only 10 wins. Brooklyn proved to be the new elite of the WBA winning 63 games as Paris and Oregon who matched up in the last two championships fell to 50 and 56 wins respectively. Salt Lake City was the only other 60 win team as they increased from 52 to 60 to emerge as the pride of the Western Conference.
The Andorra Highlanders surprisingly shot up to be the league’s best offense at 110.4 a game. Brooklyn once again came in second but had improved to 109.6. Cancun reclaimed their defensive dominance only allowing 88 points per game. Dave Williams once again had the league’s highest-scoring average at 29.2 but due to injury Wayne Taylor earned his fourth scoring title. Simeon Hill emerged as the league’s new top rebounder at 11.4 rebounds per game and Isaac Edmondson led the league averaging 10.7 assists. In a big point of controversy, the WBA changed some defensive rules to advantage offensive players and limit steals. So while Bobby Egan still led the league in steals he only got 2.6 per game. Gonzales once again led in blocks with 3.1 per game.
The WBA changed to a new playoff format with round one now having seven games. The idea was to limit some of the crazy upsets the WBA had seen in previous years but critics claim it was about money both getting more playoffs games and ensuring that the large market teams were less likely to get upset. Still, the first round was very competitive with three series taking all seven games. the #4 vs. #5 matchup of the Xtreme against the Pirates was a thrilling seven-game event with Miami finally pulling it out. The #2 seed the Dinos had a tough road against #7 seed Raiders but they finally one. In the West, Cancun fought a tough one finally beating the Wild. Brooklyn also had a six-game series that they won against the Hitmen. All-in-all WBA executives felt the change was positive. The second round was just as good. Paris as the #3 seed upset #2 Toronto in game seven of the second round. Cancun also had a very tough match to survive in seven against Cape Town. The conference finals were surprisingly one-sided with both Brooklyn and Cancun winning 4-1 in their respective match-ups. To the league’s great disappointment despite a very exciting first two rounds and Cancun being a great story after making it through two seven-game match-ups, Brooklyn swept Cancun winning their first championship since 2004. Mario Bailey, who started his career as an undrafted rookie had reached superstardom claiming the Championship, MVP, and Playoff MVP.
A massive realignment shook things up in the WBA. Over the years, teams had moved but the WBA had only done patchwork realignments. This realignment completely reimagined the WBA into the World Conference and the USA Conference. This also balanced the power in the WBA. Once again there were eight teams that achieved the 50 win mark but this time there were four in each conference. Coming off a Championship year Brooklyn improved to 68 wins. New York, Boston, and Salt Lake all broke 50 wins but none passed 53 which made Brooklyn the clear powerhouse. Toronto was the only team in the World Conference to hit 60 wins. They had 60 exactly. Milan, Cancun, and Gabon finished with 55, 54, and 53 respectively. Meaning the top of the World was very competitive. On the downside, there were seven teams that didn’t achieve 30 wins. Alaska improved their win total dramatically but 19 wins is still an embarrassment.
The New York Liberty made massive changes bringing Heiko Van Brandt, Wayne Taylor, and Vuri Vilasny to their roster and put up the best offensive numbers in the league at 113.3 points per game. Brooklyn was second for the third year in a row. Cancun once again had the league’s top defense allowing only 89.9 points per game. Brooklyn was the league’s second-best defense. Mario Bailey and DaRond Lyons both averaged 30.0 points per game. But, Bailey missed 14 games and Lyons missed three allowing rookie Almantas Talacka to score the most points even though he averaged 29.2 points. He also won the league MVP making his rookie year, maybe, the most successful rookie year ever. Chad Nolan led the league in rebounds at 10.5 and Jervan Timmons won his first assists title at 10.8 per game. Timmons also managed to lead the league in steals with 2.8 per game. Lou Gonzales continued to dominate the defensive interior averaging 3.1 blocks.
Heading into the postseason Brooklyn, the defending champs with the most wins and the second-best in both offense and defense was heavily favored to win the title. Brooklyn swept round one despite Mario Bailey being injured to start the playoffs. But, Al Herbert went down with a dislocated knee in game four. It was actually a very exciting first round for the WBA with #5 Gabon beating #4 Albacete 4-1, #6 Cape Town beating #3 Cancun 4-0 in the World Conference. And in the USA Conference, #5 Boston beat #4 Las Vegas 4-1 and#6 Salt Lake beat #3 Omaha. The upsets made everything exciting. The second round was not as exciting. #6 Capetown did upset #2 Tokyo but they swept them which is never too exciting. Toronto did have a great series with Gabon winning in seven games. But, Brooklyn with the return of Mario Bailey beat Boston 4-1, even without Al Herbert and New York swept Salt Lake. The Conference Finals got very interesting though. Toronto managed to win the series with Cape Town in seven giving them their first appearance in the WBA finals in an exciting fashion. The real surprise was in the USA Conference. Everything started out as expected with Brooklyn beating the Liberty by 23. But then everything changed. New York won four straight games. Brooklyn’s coaching staff panicked after going down 2-1 and tried two different starting line-ups to finish the series neither of which was successful. The finals between New York and Toronto was about as exciting as it gets! Toronto started our strong going up 3-1 in the series. Then the Liberty turned everything around and won the last three games. Game five was a drumming with a 47 point victory and while Toronto played well in the final two games they never won again. Wayne Taylor was already the league’s leading scorer but the slight against him had always been his failure to go all the way. This victory secured Taylor’s legacy as one of the league’s best players of all time.