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The return of the Pats: An 'I love the '80s' vibe

The return of the Pats: An 'I love the '80s' vibe

Commentary: You have to root for sincere backers
The return of the Pats: An 'I love the '80s' vibe
Former Albany Patroons coach Charley Rosen and former star and current coach/GM Derrick Rowland share a laugh Wednesday.
Photographer: Mark McGuire/Executive Sports Editor

ALBANY -- They held a news conference at the Washington Avenue Armory Wednesday, and a reunion broke out.

Charley Rosen, Phil Jackson's assistant in the CBA, was there, kicking it with a one-of-a-kind Albany Patroons "Steal Your Face" Grateful Dead T-shirt.

He was sharing a laugh with Derrick Rowland,the embodiment of the franchise that once rocked the once-grand barn that was and is the Washington Avenue Armory. The Armory still bills itself as a "sports and convention arena," dating back to the days before Albany had the Times Union Center and Albany Capital Center.

Nearby sat Lowes Moore, a star for too many years in the CBA (he was better), and Dave Magley, a Patroon from the 1984 title team who is heading a new league that will include the Albany Patroons, old logo and all.

Yes, they are getting the band back together.

It  would be easily -- painfully easy -- to say that this won't work, that the economics of sports and the city have changed dramatically since the Patroons (the first incarnation, not the hollow shell of a second or the farce of the third, a USBL reboot) dominated the local entertainment scene in the 1980s. There is so much, from the ascent of Division I basketball locally to 50-inch hi-def screens in the home, that will work against  this North American Premier Basketball effort being a success.

And parking. Don't forget parking. This area goes bonkers over parking. Ask the departed Albany Devils.

And also don't forget the fate of the Albany Legends. If you even remember them.

But ...

You want to root for these people. You have to root for these people. They are trying to make the community better. And they are doing so by enthusiastically, unabashedly selling nostalgia, even if most under 40 probably have no recollection of the Patroons' heyday. When these people and local leaders talked of Wednesday's announcement being of historic proportions, it was to be taken literally.

All that was missing was Springsteen's "Glory Days" -- released, appropriately enough, in the Patroons' 1984 championship season. (The Pats also won in 1988.)

"The atmosphere here was incomparable," said Rosen, Jackson's assistant from 1983-86 who also served as a head coach of the Pats and other CBA teams, and is an accomplished writer. "They were discerning fans.

"The Patroons were part of the Albany family. And Albany was part of the Patroon family. That's what made the whole situation special"

Magley, speaking under the oversized Patroon banners that still hang from the Armory rafters -- including those for two CBA titles -- said to be viable the team will need to draw 1,500 fans a night (the Armory holds in the neighborhood of 2,500), with tickets starting around $8. The season would last 32 games, start in December, and feature teams across the United States and Western Canada. Combines are already being held looking for talent, who would make around $1,500 to $5,000 a month.

Maybe ...

Rowland will be coach and GM. Magley talked of how the Armory still  "smelled like basketball." But he most animatedly spoke of how he plans for the team to be integrated into the community, into the schools, helping enrich the fabric of the region.

"Our biggest reason for being here," he said, "is to make Albany a better place to live."

Hopefully ...

Cynicism is easy and cheap. You get awarded zero points for correctly predicting this effort will fail.

You get subtracted points if you root for it to fail.

So they are banking on nostalgia? Here's to hoping it works.

It really is a good memory.

Reach Executive Sports Editor Mark McGuire at 518-395-3105, mmcguire@dailygazette.net or @MJMcGuire on Twitter.


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