American Basketball League, (ABL)

Main article: American Basketball League (1996-1998).  The American Basketball League, often abbreviated to the ABL of 1996 was an independent professional basketball league for women in the United States. At the same time the ABL was being formed, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was creating the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Both organizations came into existence during a surge in popularity for women's basketball in the United States that followed the undefeated, gold medal-winning performance of the United States Women's basketball team at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

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.[1]

Of all the ABL cities, ChicagoSeattle, and Atlanta now have WNBA teams.

All Star Cards: ABL and USA Players available at WNBAcards.com