If you’ve been longing for affordable pro basketball and don’t mind if the players aren’t NBA-caliber, just wait. The ABA will be coming your way someday.
For San Francisco, someday is Tuesday. That’s when the San Francisco Pilots debut against the Fresno Heatwave at 2,500-seat Kezar Pavilion at 7 p.m.
The Pilots are mainly players from the ProCity Summer Basketball League, except that their games are not free. Tickets for the opener are $5, but after that, they’ll cost $10, with a $20 floor seat. The Pilots will play a 35-game schedule, with 18 home games in Kezar Pavilion.
“We have a very athletic team,” said 6-foot-4 power forward Solomon Wilkins, who played at Humboldt State. “We’re not the biggest team, but we have some great shooters. We play a very fast-paced style.”
One of those shooters, ex-USF point guard Jovan Harris (above), said, “It’s going to be an exciting kind of ball.”
Coach Richard Morton, a two-time MVP in the summer league, also will have guards LyRyan Russell (USF), Kevin Butler (UC Riverside) and Anthony Lackey (Portland State). The key frontcourt players are Jason Williams (UOP) and Will Levy (Eastern Washington). The players will earn $600-800 a week, a team official said.
Two ex-Warriors are coaching ABA teams, Tim Hardaway (Florida Pit Bulls) and Vincent Askew (Tacoma Navigators). Other ABA coaches who played in the NBA include Darryl Dawkins (Newark), Dennis Scott (Atlanta) and Gary Grant (Southern California). Tree Rollins is the general manager at Kentucky.
The Pilots are owned by an entrepreneur named Parimal Rohit, 28, a criminal defense attorney who also coordinates operations for boxing matches and promotes concerts.
He already has invested $200,000 and will be out another $150,000 by the time the 36-game season is over, he said.
A reporter jokingly asked him why he’s not taking a more time-honored approach to throwing that kind of money away, by opening a restaurant in San Francisco. “I thought of it,” he said seriously, “but I’d like to get into sports management.”