ALBANY — Albany’s storied basketball franchise starts its new season Saturday with a new owner, a new sponsor and a renewed dream of returning to its glory days.
The Albany Patroons, defending 2019 TBL champions, will host the Tri-State Admirals starting at 7 p.m. on their home court, the Washington Avenue Armory — which has some new renovations itself for the 2020 season.
The new owner of the Patroons, Dr. Tim Maggs, is a longtime Schenectady chiropractor specializing in biomechanics for athletes. He’s excited about the Patroons’ prospects for the season and about bringing his expertise in structural balance to the team. He’s also director of sports biomechanics for the 12 teams of The Basketball League, or TBL.
Formed in 1982, the Patroons were one of the most successful and popular professional sports franchises in Capital Region history. The team was long a part of the Continental Basketball Association, which for many years served as a feeder system for the National Basketball Association.
MARC SCHULTZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Albany Patroons head coach Derrick Rowland and Patroons owner Dr. Tim Maggs in headquarters in Schenectady.
Maggs’ relationship with the team goes back to the 1980s, when the man who would become the Patroons’ all-time leading scorer, Derrick Rowland, became one of his patients and then a friend.
Rowland today is the Patroons’ head coach, and it was he who suggested to Maggs that he buy the team, which was financially strapped and owned by TBL.
Rowland led the team to a championship last year despite the adverse circumstances, but was ready for new ownership.
“Doc and I have been friends for more than 30 years and I’m thrilled to have him as part of the team,” Rowland said. “Doc’s energy, spirit, vision and confidence will continue to build upon our success on the court and expand it to the community.”
A number of coaches and players started their pro careers in Albany with the Patroons and moved onto the NBA, including Bill Musselman, George Karl, Micheal Ray Richardson, Dean Meminger and Phil Jackson, who played for the New York Knicks and later become a legendary championship coach for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Patroons played in the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany and later moved to the Times Union Center. They won CBA titles in 1984 and 1988.
The Albany franchise played in the CBA from 1982 to 1992. It was renamed the Capital Region Pontiacs in 1992 and moved to Connecticut in 1993, where it eventually went dormant. The Patroons re-formed and rejoined the CBA in 2005 in Albany, but that league folded in 2009. (The team also competed in the United States Basketball League from 2006-2007.)
It went defunct again, then joined The Basketball League (previously called the North American Premier Basketball league) in 2018.
That first stretch in Albany was the high point for the team, which was popular and drew crowds. The magic faded further with each successive move and hiatus, but Maggs hopes to restore it.
“Everybody knows the Patroons. Everybody has stories of the Patroons,” he said. “I want Patroons fans to buckle up, because this year is going to be unlike any that the Patroons have had. [We have] programs set up [and] Derrick has a crop of players that are borderline NBA-caliber … 2020 is going to be a fantastic year for Patroonville.”
Rivers Casino & Resort was introduced Thursday as the premier sponsor of the Patroons’ 2020 season. Maggs, whose Health Center on Erie Boulevard is near the casino, said it has been a great partner for the community in the three years it has operated in Schenectady and will help restore the Patroons’ luster.
“As the Capital Region’s longest-running professional sports franchise, the Albany Patroons bring excitement and pride throughout the community, and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of that,” Rivers General Manager Justin Moore said in a news release. “We’re looking forward to helping bring fans an even more dynamic game experience as they cheer the team on to another memorable championship run. This is just the beginning of what we believe will be a long and successful partnership.”
A new radio show, Full Court Press, will be taped live each Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Van Slyck’s stage at Rivers. The event will feature Patroons players and members of the Albany Emeralds hype squad, and will be hosted by Maggs, Rowland and General Manager Michael Corts. It will air each Saturday at 10 a.m. on 104.5 The Team, ESPN Radio.
Maggs, meanwhile, is looking forward to using the Patroons’ platform to showcase the structural management program for athletes he spent 25 years developing. Every player will go through a detailed biomechanical exam that will identify their imbalances — like leg length differences or range of motion restrictions — and allow them to be addressed before they cause injury.
Part of Maggs’ role with TBL will be to spread the program to other teams. He hopes ultimately to interest the NBA in it. He already works with high-school age athletes from across the region.
- TEAM: Albany Patroons
- HOME: Washington Avenue Armory
- LEAGUE: The Basketball League (12 teams)
- SEASON: 24 games, plus playoffs
- OPENER: 7 p.m. Saturday, at home, vs. Tri-State
- 2019: Won TBL championship, defeating Yakima
- WEBSITE: patroonsbasketball.com