The Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL) was a professional
women's basketball league in the United States. The league played three
seasons from the fall of 1978 to the spring of 1981. The league is
generally considered to be the first American professional women's
basketball league to be founded. The league began with a player draft held in Manhattan's Essex House in July 1978, with eight teams participating. By November 1981, the league was showing what The New York Times described as "feeble flickers of life", and cited commissioner Dave Almstead as saying that the league was defunct, having had generated $14 million in losses in its three years on the court.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION 1993 - 1996 [Played three full
seasons with plans to play as a 12-team league in 1997, disbanded
before 1997 season]
A summer league formed in 1992, the WBA played a 15-game schedule
and games were broadcast on Liberty Sports of Dallas. When FOX Sports
purchased Liberty Sports and the WBA, they disbanded the league. www.tinyurl.com/WBAvideos
1993 WBA AMERICAN CONFERENCE W L Pct. GB Nebraska Express 13 2 .867 .. Missouri Mustangs 10 5 .667 3 Oklahoma Cougars 3 12 .200 10
WORLD CONFERENCE W L Pct. GB Kansas Crusaders 10 5 .667 .. Iowa Unicorns 5 10 .333 5 Illinois Knights 4 11 .267 6
WBA FIRST ROUND Iowa 119, Missouri 103 Missouri 98, Iowa 93 Missouri 117, Iowa 112 (OT)
Kansas 92, Oklahoma 77, Kansas 114, Oklahoma 64 Nebraska 166, Illinois 129 Nebraska 127, Illinois 115
WBA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES Kansas 125, Nebraska 119 Nebraska 118, Kansas 100 Kansas 111, Nebraska 96 Kansas 100, Nebraska 98 (*KANSAS: FIRST WBA CHAMPIONS)
MVP: Robelyn (Robbie) Garcia
1994 WBA AMERICAN CONFERENCE W L Pct. GB Nebraska Express 10 5 .667
5 Indiana Stars 8 7 .533 7 Oklahoma Flames 3 12 .200 12 Iowa Twisters 1
14 .067 14
NATIONAL CONFERENCE W L Pct. GB Kansas City Mustangs 15 0 1.000 ..
Memphis Blues 10 5 .667 5 St. Louis River Queens 9 6 .600 6 Kansas
Marauders 4 11 .267 11
WBA FIRST ROUND Memphis 126, St. Louis 111 Memphis 122, St. Louis 110
WBA SECOND ROUND Kansas City 98, Memphis 94 Memphis 101, Kansas City
87 (winner determined by total points - Memphis 195, Kansas City 185)
WBA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES Memphis 102, Nebraska 101 Nebraska 123,
Memphis 108 Memphis 138, Nebraska 128 Nebraska 111, Memphis 101
Nebraska 103, Memphis 101
1995 WBA American Conference W L Pct. GB Chicago Twisters 15 1 .938
.. Nebraska Express 6 9 .400 8.5 Minnesota Stars 5 10 .333 9.5 Oklahoma
Flames 5 10 .333 9.5
National Conference W L Pct. GB St. Louis RiverQueens 9 7 .562 ..
Kansas City Mustangs 7 8 .467 1.5 Kentucky Marauders 7 8 .467 1.5
Memphis Blues 7 8 .467 1.5
WBA CHAMPIONSHIP 29 July l995 Chicago 107, St. Louis 96
- 1995 - 20 1994 - 1995 All-Star Team 1 1994
All-Stars 2 Lisa Braddy 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 3 Sarah Campbell 1.00
Kansas City Mustangs 4 Lisa Carlsen 1.00 Nebraska Express 5 Joy Champ
1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 6 Cledella Evans 1.00 Oklahoma Flames 7
Crystal Flint 1.00 Rookie 8 Robbie Robelyn Garcia 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 9
Kay Kay Hart 1.00 Iowa Twisters 10 Petra Jackson 1.00 St. Louis River
Queens 11 Patrice Marshall 1.00 Oklahoma Flames 12 Evette Ott 1.00
Kansas City Mustangs 13 Lynn Page 1.00 Oklahoma Flames 14 Lisa
Sandbothe 1.00 St. Louis River Queens 15 Danielle Shareef 1.00 Kansas
City Mustangs 16 Lisa Tate 1.00 Rookie 17 Kiana Vines 1.00 Indiana
Stars 18 Tammy Williams 1.00 Indiana Stars 19 Cynthia Wilson 1.00
Rookie NN Lightning Mitchell 1.00 League Director.
The ABL lasted two full seasons: 1996–97 and 1997–98. The Atlanta Glory and Long Beach Stingrays folded prior to the start of the 1998–99 season, and were replaced by two expansion teams, the Chicago Condors and Nashville Noise. On December 22, 1998; with almost no warning, the ABL declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and suspended operations. Each team had played between 12 to 15 games of the 1998–99 season.
The ABL got off the ground before, and early on was considered to
feature a higher quality of play than, the rival WNBA. This was partly
due to the league's signing of a majority of players from the 1996 USA
women's national team. Although the WNBA was bankrolled by the NBA, the
ABL offered higher salaries. The two leagues didn't compete directly;
the ABL played during the winter while the WNBA played during the
summer. Despite this, the ABL ultimately found the WNBA's stronger
financial resources to be too much to overcome.
Some of the ABL's problems were of its own making. The league
operated as a single-entity structure, with practically all operations
handled out of headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
This hamstrung the teams' efforts to market themselves locally. The ABL
was also underfinanced. According to Condors general manager Allison
Hodges, she was on her way to a press conference announcing her team's
name when the league office called to say the season was canceled.
Minutes later, the office called back to say the season was on again.
Hodges and the other general managers only found out about the league's
shutdown when they were in the middle of their weekly conference call.
Of all the ABL cities, Chicago, Seattle, and Atlanta now have WNBA teams. More information, media guides and photos at www.funwhileitlasted.net/basketball/abl-galleries-1996-1998
All Star Cards: ABL and USA Players available at WNBAcards.com
More HISTORY OF WOMEN'S PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL
Compiled by Robert Bradley
Contributors - Jack Black, F. Travis Boley, Robert Bradley, Tom Goddard, John
Guy, Steve Mau, Shawn Oliver, Mark Pollak, Pat Premo and Dennis Slusher
ALL-AMERICAN RED HEADS www.allamericanredheads.com
Formed by C.M. "Ole" Olson (founder of "Olsen's Terrible Swedes) in Crossville
Missouri in 1936, the All-American Red Heads were the most long-lived and
best-known of the women's professional teams. Taking their name from a gimmick
inspired by the chain of beauty salons owned by Olson's wife's, the players on
the team either dyed their hair red. With the sale of the team to Coach Orwell
Moore, and the leadership on the court of his wife Lorene "Butch" Moore, the Red
Heads, now based in Caraway, Arkansas, traveled around the country and abroad
playing against men's teams and featuring a brand of play designed to amuse and
entertain the fans. The Red Head's players were recruited from high schools and
AAU clubs throughout the country and stayed in operation for over 50 years.
HAZEL WALKER'S ARKANSAS TRAVELERS
In 1949 Hazel Walker, a native of Oak Hill, Arkansas, chose to leave the
All-American Red Heads to start her own bastrorming club, which she named Hazel
Walker's Arkansas Travelers. Playing up to six nights a week against male
competition, the Travelers proved their abaility as players, winning over 85%
of their games. The Travelers played a total of 16 seasons before Walker decided
to retire in 1965 at the age of 50.
LADIES PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION 1980-81
[Played part of one month, Oakland, San Jose and Tucson never played a game]
Formed as a rival league to the WBL when the WBl began to experience financial
problems. The league was poorly organized and played only five games before
disbanding with three teams never playing a game.
NME - New Mexico Energee [Albuquerque, NM] 1980-81
OAK - Oakland Outlaws [Oakland, CA] 1980-81
PHX - Phoenix Flames [Phoenix, AZ] 1980-81
SJC - San Jose Chips [San Jose, CA] 1980-81
SCB - Southern California Breeze [Orange, CA] 1980-81
TUC - Tucson Storm [Tucson, AZ] 1980-81
LPBA ARENAS 1980-81
NME - Albuquerque Civic Center, Albuquerque, NM 1980-81
PHX - Brophy College Prep School Gymnasium, Phoenix, AZ 1980-81
SCB - Hutton Sports Center, Chapman College, Orange, CA 1980-81
LIBERTY BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION - LBA: 1991
[Played one exhibition game on 10 Feb 1991 before disbanding]
Founded by Jim Drucker, a former Continental Basketball Association
commissioner, the LBA tried gimmicks such as 9' 2" high baskets, a 25"
circumference basketball and skin-tight unitards for its players. The
league only survived one game as the Detroit Dazzlers defeated LBA
All-Stars at the Palace of Auburn Hills in front of 10,753 spectators
Chicago Slammers [Chicago, IL] 1991
NWBL - National Women's Basketball League-
Detroit Dazzlers [Auburn Hills, MI] 1991
LBA All-Stars 1991
Los Angeles Lancers [Los Angeles, CA] 1991
New York Blasters [New York, NY] 1991
Philadelphia Freedoms [Philadelphia, PA] 1991
In contrast to the ABL
, and the WNBA before it, the NWBL was founded to govern a competitive amateur
league for women. The NWBL was founded in 1997, in the shadow of both
the ABL and the WNBA. The league is considered to be the brainchild of
Patrick Alexander and Kevin Szotkowski, who saw the rapid growth of
women's athletics of the time and decided to go into the business of
promoting women athletes.
WBCBL - Women's Blue Chip Basketball League. The WBCBL's mission is to provide
semi-Professional highly competitive basketball for women age 20 and older, while creating
opportunities for economic and educational advancement in local
communities. This League is currently active.
Women's ABA - www.wababb.com . This League is currently active.
WNBA - 20 years
The Women's National Basketball Association
or WNBA is an organization governing a professional basketball league
for women in the United States. The WNBA was formed in 1996 as the
women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association,
and league play began in 1997. The regular WNBA season is June to
September (North American Spring and Summer). Most WNBA teams play at
the same venue as their NBA counterparts. Most team names are also very
similar to those of NBA teams in the same market, such as the Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx.
Officially approved by the NBA Board of Governors on April 24, 1996, the creation of the WNBA was first announced at a press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes
in attendance. While not the first major women's professional
basketball league in the United States (a distinction held by the
defunct WBL), the WNBA is the only league to receive full backing of
On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996 USA
Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the
WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to much fanfare. The league began with eight teams. The first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks
in Los Angeles and was televised nationally, in the United States, on
the NBC television network. At the start of the 1997 season, the WNBA
had television deals in place with NBC, ESPN and Lifetime Television Network.
The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference
and the Western Conference. Each of the 13 teams play a 34-game regular
season schedule, beginning in June and ending in mid September. The
four teams in each conference with the best Win/Loss records go on to
compete in the WNBA Playoffs during September with the WNBA Finals in early October.
An All-Star Game is typically held in the middle of July, while regular play stops temporarily for it. In Olympic
years, there is no all-star game, but a break of about five weeks in
the middle of the WNBA season allows players to participate in the
Olympic games as members of their national teams.
There have been a total of 18 teams in WNBA history. A total of 5 teams have folded: the Charlotte Sting, the Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets, the Miami Sol and the Portland Fire. Two other teams, the Utah Starzz and the Orlando Miracle moved, to San Antonio (Silver Stars) and Uncasville, Connecticut (Sun) respectively, ( WNBA.com )
Steve D. Professional League Research Below:
- WPBL/WBL (1978-81)
- WABA (1984)
- WBA (1993-95)
- ABL (1996-98)
- WNBA (1997- present)
- Other Leagues listed below in the Notes-
Note-1- Before the WBL ever began play, a league called the Women's
Professional Basketball Association (WPBA) was scheduled to begin play in
1975. These teams were set to be part of the league; Indianapolis Pink Panthers,
Arkansas Lassies, Atlanta, Greenville, Nashville and Winston-Salem. The league
folded before it ever started.
Note-2 - A new league was formed in 1980 called the Ladies
Professional Basketball League (LPBA) was set to compete with the WBL. Molly
Bolin left the WBL's Iowa Cornets and signed to play for the Southern California
Breeze. These other teams were part of the league also; New Mexico Energee,
Oakland Outlaws, Phoenix Flames, San Jose Chips and Tucson Storm. The league
folded seven (7) games into the season. Molly Bolin was averaging over 40 points
per game at this time.
Note-3 - The National Women's Basketball Association (NWBA) was
set to start in 1986 with these teams aboard: California Stars, Georgia
Peaches, Pride of Iowa, Louisiana Blues, North Carolina Blaze, Tennessee
Tiger-Cats, Texas Twisters and Virginia Express. The league folded right before
the season was supposed to start.
- The Liberty Basketball Association (LBA)
played one pre-season game before it folded in 1991. The Detroit Dazzlers
defeated the LBA All-Stars in the only game played. The league folded soon after
leaving these other teams without even playing a game: Chicago Slammers, Los
Angeles Lancers, New York Blasters and Philadelphia Freedoms.