The Continental Basketball Association or CBA is a professional men's basketball league in the United States. The league views itself as a minor league that develops talent for the National Basketball Association. It is affiliated with USA Basketball, the sport's governing body in the U.S. It should not be confused with another CBA, the Chinese Basketball Association.

The CBA can date its origins back to April 23, 1946, when it was called the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League (1946-47). Between 1948 and 1970 it was called the Eastern Professional Basketball League, and then renamed the Eastern Basketball Association. On June 1, 1978, the league's name became the Continental Basketball Association. Tracing the league's operation back to its Pennsylvania origins, it claims to be the oldest professional basketball league in the world (the NBA's predecessor, the Basketball Association of America, also began operations in 1946, but in June of that year). Its first commissioner was Harry Rudolph, the father of Mendy Rudolph, one of the first great referees of the National Basketball Association.

In 1999, all the league's teams were purchased by an investment group led by former NBA star Isiah Thomas. The combined ownership plan was unsuccessful and the CBA declared bankruptcy and ceased operations on February 8, 2001. Some of its teams moved briefly to the International Basketball League.

In the fall of 2001, CBA and IBL teams merged with the International Basketball Association and purchased the assets of the defunct CBA, including its name, logo and records from the bankruptcy court and re-started operations, calling itself the CBA.

CBA Accomplishments


In the 1946-47 Eastern League season, the Hazleton Mountaineers had three African-American players on their roster during the season - Bill Brown, Zack Clayton and John Isaacs. Isaacs previously played with an all-black touring squad, the Washington Bears, while Brown and Clayton were alumni of the Harlem Globetrotters.

In the 1955-56 season, the Hazleton Hawks Eastern League team were the first professional league franchise with an all-black starting lineup: Tom Hemans, Jess Arnelle, Fletcher Johnson, Sherman White and Floyd Lane.


Although the 1961-63 American Basketball League used a three-point scoring line, the Eastern League added a three-point line for the 1964-65 season. In that year, Brendan McCann of the Allentown Jets led the league with 31 completed 3-pointers for the year. Although three-point plays in the 1960's were very few and far-between, the Eastern League did develop several scorers who used the three-point shot to their advantage, including sharpshooters Stan Pawlak and Rich Cornwall.


After Darryl Dawkins shattered two basketball rims in the 1979-80 NBA season, the CBA tested out a collapsible hinged rim. Eventually other leagues converted their rims over to the collapsible hinged model, which is still in use today.


In the early 1980's, the CBA and the NBA entered into an agreement where CBA players would be signed to 10-day NBA contracts, mostly to replace an injured player or to test out a top prospect. Under the 10-day contract rule, a player is signed at the prorated league minimum salary for 10 calendar days. If the NBA team likes the player, they can sign him to a second 10-day contract. After the second 10-day contract expires, the team must either return the player to the CBA or sign him for the rest of the season.

CBA Alumni

Phil Jackson
Coached the Albany Patroons for five years; later won nine rings as an NBA head coach.

Flip Saunders
Ranks second in the CBA with 253 career victories as a head coach; moved on to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves and currently coaches the Detroit Pistons

George Karl
Coached the Montana Golden Nuggets and Albany Patroons; later became a head coach with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle SuperSonics and Denver Nuggets.

John Chaney
The longtime Temple Owls coach played for the Eastern League's Sunbury Mercuries, and later coached the Williamsport Billies.

Tim Legler
The Omaha Racers star later became an NBA player with the Washington Bullets.

Jim Boeheim
Long before he became head coach of the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team, Boeheim was a star for the Scranton Miners in the 1960's.

Paul Arizin
When the Philadelphia Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1961, Arizin chose to stay in Philadelphia, playing three years with the Eastern League's Camden Bullets.

John Starks
Started his professional basketball career with the 1989-90 Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets.

Bill Musselman
Coached the Tampa Bay/Rapid City Thrillers and Albany Patroons to four consecutive CBA titles; later became the first head coach of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.

Eric Musselman
The son of the late Bill Musselman, Eric ranks as one of the winningest coaches in CBA history; later became the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, finishing as runner-up for NBA Coach of the Year in 2002-2003, and the Sacramento Kings.

Current NBA players with CBA experience include Raja Bell, Jeff McInnis, Voshon Lenard, Stephen Jackson and Smush Parker.

CBA Champions

Best-of-three games series:

1946-47 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Lancaster Red Roses 2-1
1947-48 Reading Keys d. Hazleton Mountaineers 2-1
1948-49 Pottsville Packers d. Harrisburg Senators 2-1
1949-50 Williamsport Billies d. Harrisburg Senators 2-1
1950-51 Sunbury Mercuries d. York Victory A.C. 2-0
1951-52 Pottsville Packers d. Sunbury Mercuries 2-1
1952-53 Williamsport Billies d. Berwick Carbuilders 2-1
1953-54 Williamsport Billies d. Lancaster Red Roses 2-1
1954-55 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Hazelton Hawks 2-1
1955-56 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Williamsport Billies 3-1
1956-57 Scranton Miners d. Hazelton Hawks 2-1
1957-58 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Easton Madisons 2-1
1958-59 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Scranton Miners 2-1
1959-60 Easton Madisons d. Baltimore Bullets 2-1
1960-61 Baltimore Bullets d. Allentown Jets 1-0
1961-62 Allentown Jets d. Williamsport Billies 2-1
1962-63 Allentown Jets d. Wilkes-Barre Barons 2-1
1963-64 Camden Bullets d. Trenton Colonials 2-0
1964-65 Allentown Jets d. Scranton Miners 2-1
1965-66 Wilmington Blue Bombers d. Wilkes-Barre Barons 2-1
1966-67 Wilmington Blue Bombers d. Scranton Miners 2-1

Best-of-five games series

1967-68 Allentown Jets d. Wilkes-Barre Barons 3-2
1968-69 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Wilmington Blue Bombers 3-2
1969-70 Allentown Jets d. Wilmington Blue Bombers 3-2
1970-71 Scranton Apollos d. Hamden Bics 3-1
1971-72 Allentown Jets d. Scranton Apollos 3-2
1972-73 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Hartford Capitols 3-2
1973-74 Hartford Capitols d. Allentown Jets 3-2
1974-75 Allentown Jets d. Hazelton Bullets 2-1
1975-76 Allentown Jets d. Lancaster Red Roses 3-2
1976-77 Scranton Apollos d. Allentown Jets 3-1
1977-78 Wilkes-Barre Barons d. Lancaster Red Roses 3-2

Best-of-seven games series

1978-79 Rochester Zeniths d. Anchorage Northern Knights 4-0
1979-80 Anchorage Northern Knights d. Rochester Zeniths 4-3
1980-81 Rochester Zeniths d. Montana Golden Nuggets 4-0
1981-82 Lancaster Lightning d. Billings Volcanos 4-1
1982-83 Detroit Spirits d. Montana Golden Nuggets 4-3
1983-84 Albany Patroons d. Wyoming Wildcatters 3-2
1984-85 Tampa Bay Thrillers d. Detroit Spirits 4-3
1985-86 Tampa Bay Thrillers d. La Crosse Catbirds 4-1
1986-87 Rapid City Thrillers d. Rockford Lightning 4-1
1987-88 Albany Patroons d. Wyoming Wildcatters 4-3
1988-89 Tulsa Fast Breakers d. Rockford Lightning 4-0
1989-90 La Crosse Catbirds d. Rapid City Thrillers 4-1
1990-91 Wichita Falls Texans d. Quad City Thunder 4-3
1991-92 La Crosse Catbirds d. Rapid City Thrillers 4-3
1992-93 Omaha Racers d. Grand Rapids Hoops 4-2
1993-94 Quad City Thunder d. Omaha Racers 4-1
1994-95 Yakima Sun Kings d. Pittsburgh Piranhas 4-2
1995-96 Sioux Falls Skyforce d. Fort Wayne Fury 4-1
1996-97 Oklahoma City Cavalry d. Florida Beachdogs 4-2
1997-98 Quad City Thunder d. Sioux Falls Skyforce 4-3
1998-99 Connecticut Pride d. Sioux Falls Skyforce 4-1

Championship game

1999-2000 Yakima Sun Kings 109, LaCrosse Bobcats 93
2000-2001 Idaho Stampede (17-7) and Connecticut Pride (15-9) led their divisions when the league suspended operations.
2001-2002 Dakota Wizards 116, Rockford Lightning 109
2002-2003 Yakima Sun Kings 117, Grand Rapids Hoops 107
2003-2004 Dakota Wizards 132, Idaho Stampede 129

Best-of-five games series

2004-2005 Sioux Falls Skyforce d. Rockford Lightning 3-1

Best-of-three games series

2005-2006 Yakama Sun Kings d. Gary Steelheads 2-1

CBA/NBA Relationship

During the early years of the CBA, when it was the EPBL, the league's relationship with the NBA was frosty at best. In 1953, the NBA refused to accept any players from the EPBL after the EPBL signed several college basketball stars who were involved in point-shaving gambling scandals during their college years, including such players as Jack Molinas, Sherman White, Floyd Layne and Ed Roth. The Eastern League also signed 7-foot center Bill Spivey, the former University of Kentucky standout who was accused of pointshaving (although Spivey was acquitted of all charges, the NBA still banned him from their league for life).

The NBA and EPBL did, however, play several exhibition games in the 1950's, including a 1956 matchup in which the NBA's Syracuse Nationals lost to the EPBL's Wilkes-Barre Barons at Wilkes-Barre's home court. Other EPBL-NBA exhibition matchups include an October 1959 contest in which the New York Knicks defeated the Allentown Jets, 131-102, in a game in Allentown; and a contest in April 1961, in which the Boston Celtics also played an exhibition contest against Allentown, defeating the Eastern Leaguers soundly.

The Eastern League also signed various basketball stars, even those who had not completed their college eligibility. Even though Ray Scott had left Portland University two months after his matriculation, the NBA could not sign Scott to a contract until Scott's class graduated. The EPBL, however, could sign him, and Scott played 77 games for the Allentown Jets before later joining the NBA's Detroit Pistons.

By 1968, the Eastern League lost many of its players when the upstart American Basketball Association formed. Players such as Lavern "Jelly" Tart, Willie Somerset, Art Heyman and Walt Simon, all of whom were all-stars in the Eastern League just a year prior, were now in ABA uniforms. The ABA continued to siphon both NBA and Eastern League talent, leaving the Eastern League with only six teams in 1972; and four teams in 1975. Only the merger of the ABA and the NBA kept the Eastern League alive, as an influx of players from defunct ABA teams joined the Eastern League.

In 1979, the NBA signed four players from the newly-renamed CBA. The CBA, receiving no compensation from the NBA for these signings, filed a lawsuit against the NBA. The suit was settled and in exchange for the right to sign any player at any time, the NBA paid the CBA $115,000 and also paid the CBA $80,000 to help develop NBA referees at CBA games.

NBA/CBA relationships grew tense again in 1982, when the CBA added the Detroit Spirits to their league roster. Since the Spirits played in the same city as did the NBA's Detroit Pistons, the NBA chose to not sign any CBA players, arguing that the CBA illegally moved into an NBA city. After much negotiation between the two leagues, the NBA agreed to sign qualified CBA players to a 10-day contract. A player could be called up to an NBA team for 10 days at the league minimum, often replacing an injured NBA star. The CBA player could sign a second 10-day contract, but after the completion of the second 10-day contract, the NBA team would have to sign the player for the rest of the season, or return him to the CBA. The CBA teams, in turn, would receive compensation for each 10-day contract.

During the 1980's and 1990's, the NBA's relationship with the CBA grew, to the point where dozens of former CBA stars found their way onto NBA rosters, including Tim Legler (Omaha Racers), Mario Elie (Albany Patroons), and Ron Davis (Anchorage Northern Knights). The CBA also sent qualified coaches to the NBA, including Phil Jackson (Albany Patroons), Bill Musselman (Tampa Bay Thrillers), Eric Musselman (Rapid City Thrillers), Flip Saunders (LaCrosse Catbirds) and George Karl (Montana Golden Nuggets).

In 2002, the NBA formed its own minor league, the National Basketball Development League (the NBDL or "D-League"). At the end of the 2005-2006 season, four CBA teams jumped to the NBDL. The CBA has obtained eight new franchises for a confirmed total of 10 for the 2006 season.

Isiah Thomas Years (1999-2001)

In 1999, the CBA had survived for 54 years. By 2001, the league had shut down, declared bankruptcy, and several of its teams joined a rival league. Popular opinion lays the blame for the CBA's demise on former NBA superstar and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, who purchased the CBA and ran it as a single-entity league, only to abandon it a year later for an NBA coaching job.

The following is a timeline of the events surrounding Thomas' ownership of the CBA:

August 3, 1999 - Former NBA superstar Isiah Thomas purchases the CBA - the entire league, including all the teams, and its marketing company, CBA Properties - for $10 million. Thomas says that the league will now operate as a single-owner entity, and that the CBA will continue to be the official developmental league of the NBA.

October 7, 1999 - the sale of the CBA to Thomas is finalized. Thomas paid $5 million up front and agreed to make four additional payments to the CBA's former team owners for the balance of the debt.

October 24, 1999 - Thomas announces that there will be salary cuts in the CBA. The average salary of $1,500 per week will be reduced to $1,100 per week, with rookies getting $800 a week. Thomas' reasoning is that by reducing the number of veterans in the league, there will be more young talent available for NBA teams.

January 18, 2000 - For the first time in three years, the CBA holds an All-Star Game. The Sioux Falls SkyForce hosts the event. The All-Star Game also features an All-Rookie game, featuring the CBA's top 16 rookies.

March 2000 - the NBA offers Thomas $11 million and a percentage of the profits for the CBA. Thomas chose not to sell the league to the NBA. "The NBA made an offer that wasn't what Isiah expected," said Brendan Suhr, a former coach and co-owner of the CBA's Grand Rapids Hoops, "so he decided not to sell the league at that time."

May 2000 - a CBA All-Star team travels to China for a three-game series.

June 28, 2000 - Isiah Thomas is offered the head coaching job of the NBA's Indiana Pacers. Since the NBA rules forbid a coach from owning his own league, as it would be a conflict of interest (he could sign the minor league's best talent to his NBA team, for example), Thomas has to sell the CBA. On this day, Thomas signs a letter of intent to sell the CBA to the NBA Players' Union.

In the summer of 2000, after twenty years of using the CBA as its developmental league, the NBA announces it will form its own minor league feeder system, creating the National Basketball Development League (NBDL or "D-League"). The CBA will no longer be the NBA's official developmental league after the 2001 season.

On October 2, 2000, Isiah Thomas, unable to sell his ownership in the CBA, places the league into a blind trust, and accepts the head coaching job of the Pacers. With the league in a blind trust, there are no funds available to pay players, to buy plane tickets for away games, or to handle day-to-day operations.

February 8, 2001 - the CBA suspends play and folds. The blind trust that was to find a new owner for the league gives up. The league has over $2 million in debts. The teams are offered back to their original owners.

February 24, 2001 - 18 months after Thomas purchased the CBA, the league declared bankruptcy. Five of the former CBA team owners repurchased their franchises and joined the rival International Basketball League (IBL) to finish out the season. Other team owners chose to let their franchises fold completely, rather than reincur debts that were not theirs originally.

Summer 2001 - The IBL folds.

November 2001 - The CBA reorganizes for the 2001-02 season, as CBA franchises in Rockford, Gary, Grand Rapids and Sioux Falls merge with the smaller International Basketball Association (IBA), with franchises in Bismarck (Dakota Wizards), Fargo (Fargo-Moorhead Beez) and Saskatoon (Saskatchewan Hawks). The Flint (Mich.) Fuze joining as an expansion team.

Current/Past CBA Teams

Albany Patroons
(1982/83-1992, 2005/06-present)

Albuquerque Silvers
(1980/81-84/85, as Alberta Dusters in 1980/81-81/82; as Las Vegas Silvers in 1982/83; moved to Albuquerque during 1982/83 season)

Allentown Rockets

Anchorage Northern Knights

Asbury Park Boardwalkers

Atlantic City Hi-Rollers
(1977/78-81/82, as Washington Metros in 1977/78; as Baltimore Metros in 1978/79; moved to Utica during 1978/79 season; as Mohawk Valley Thunderbirds in 1978/79; as Utica Olympics in 1979/80)

Bakersfield Jammers
(1989/90-91/92, as San Jose Jammers in 1989/90-90/91; folded during 1991/92 season)

Berwick Carbuilders
(1949/50-50/51; 1952/53-53/54)

Billings Volcanoes
(1979/80-82/83, as Hawaii Volcanoes in 1979/80)

Brooklyn Dodgers

Butte Daredevils

Camden Bullets
(1958/59-65/66, as Baltimore Bullets in 1958/59-60/61)

Camden Bullets

Charleston Gunners

Cherry Hill Rookies

Connecticut Gold Coast Stars

Connecticut Pride
(1982/83-94/95, 1994/95-00/01, as Albany Patroons in 1982/83-91/92; as Capital Region Pontiacs 1992/93; as Hartford Hellcats in 1993/94-94/95; disbanded during 1994/95 season)

Dakota Wizards (2001/02-2005/06)
(from IBA in 2000/01; to NBA Development League in 2006/07)

Delaware Blue Bombers
(1963/64-70/71, as Wilmington Blue Bombers in 1963/64-69/70)

East Orange Colonials
(1972/73-73/74, as Garden State Colonials in 1972/73)

Easton Madisons

Evansville Thunder

Fargo-Moorhead Beez

Florida Beachdogs
(1984/85-96/97, as Tampa Bay Thrillers in 1984/85-85/86; moved to Rapid City before playoffs during 1985/86 season; as Rapid City Thrillers in 1985/86-94/95)

Fort Wayne Fury

Gary Steelheads
(2000/01; 2000/01-2005/06)

Grand Rapids Hoops
(1989/90-00/01, 2001/02-02/03, as Grand Rapids Mackers in 1994/95-95/96)

Great Falls Explorers

Great Lakes Storm
(2001/02-04/05, as Flint Fuze in 2001/02)

Hamden Bics
(1965/66-66/67; 1968/69-70/71, as New Haven Elms in 1965/66-66/67 & 1968/69)

Hamilton Pat Pavers
(1970/71-73/74, as Trenton Pat Pavers in 1970/71-71/72); as Binghamton Flyers (1967/68-69/70), as Bridgeport Flyers in 1967-68)

Harrisburg Capitols

Harrisburg Senators

Harrisburg Patriots

Harrisburg Hammerheads
(1978/79-94/95, as Maine Lumberjacks in 1978/79-82/83; as Bay State Bombardiers in 1983/84-85/86; as Pensacola Tornadoes in 1986/87-90/91; as Birmingham Bandits in 1991/92; as Rochester Renegades in 1992/93-93/94; folded during 1994/95 season)

Hartford Capitols

Hartford Downtowners

Hawaii Volcanoes

Hazleton Mountaineers

Hazleton Mountaineers

Hazleton Hawks

Hazleton Bits

Indiana Alley Cats

Idaho Stampede
(1997/98-00/01; 2002/03-2005/06) (to NBA Development League in 2006/07)

Jersey Shore Bullets
(1972/73-78/79, as Hamburg Bullets in 1972/73; moved to Hazleton during 1972/73 season; as Hazleton Bullets in 1972/73-76/77; moved to Asbury Park during 1976/77 season; as Shore Bullets in 1976/77)

Johnstown C-J's

La Crosse Bobcats
(1983/84-00/01, as Toronto Tornadoes in 1983/84-85/86; moved to Pensacola during 1985/86 season; as Pensacola Tornadoes in 1985/86; as Jacksonville Jets in 1986/87; moved to Biloxi during 1986/87 season; as Mississippi Jets in 1986/87-87/88; as Wichita Falls Texans in 1988/89-93/94; as Chicago Rockers in 1994/95-95/96)

Lancaster Red Roses
(1946/47-54/55, as Lancaster Rockets in 1949/50-52/53)

Lebanon Seltzers

Lehigh Valley Jets
(1957/58-80/81, as Wilmington Jets in 1957/58; as Allentown Jets in 1958/59-78/79)

Long Island Sounds

Long Island Ducks

Maine Windjammers
(1983/84-85/86, as Puerto Rico Coquis in 1983/84-84/85)

Miami Majesty

Michigan Mayhem

Minot SkyRockets

Montana Golden Nuggets

New York-Harlem Yankees
(1955/56, replaced Trenton Capitols during season)

Oklahoma City Cavalry

Omaha Racers
(1982/83-96/97, as Wisconsin Flyers in 1982/83-86/87; as Rochester Flyers in 1987/88-88/89)

Philadelphia Lumberjacks

Pittsburgh Xplosion

Pittsburgh Piranhas
(1983/84-94/95, as Louisville Catbirds in 1983/84-84/85; as La Crosse Catbirds in 1985/86-93/94)

Pottsville Packers
(1946/47-51/52, as Binghamton Triplets in 1946/47; moved to Pottsville during 1946/47 season; as Pottsville Pros in 1946/47)

Providence Shooting Stars

Puerto Rico Coquis

Quad City Thunder

Quincy Chiefs

Reading Merchants
(1946/47-51/52, as Reading Keys in 1946/47-48/49; as Reading Rangers in 1949/50-50/51)

Reading Keys

Reno Bighorns

Rochester Zeniths

Rockford Lightning
(1975/76-00/01, 2001/02-2005-06, as Lancaster Red Roses in 1975/76-79/80, as Philadelphia Kings in 1980/81, as Lancaster Lightning in 1981/82-84/85, as Baltimore Lightning in 1985/86)

San Diego Wildcards
(1982/83-95/96, as Detroit Spirits in 1982/83-85/86; as Savannah Spirits in 1986/87-87/88; as Tulsa Fast Breakers in 1988/89-90/91; as Tulsa Zone in 1991/92; as Fargo-Moorhead Fever in 1992/93-93/94; as Mexico City Aztecas during 1994/95; folded during 1995/96 season)

Santa Barbara Islanders

Saskatchewan Hawks
(2001/02) (from IBA)

Scranton Apollos
(1954/55-76/77, as Scranton Miners in 1954/55-69/70)

Scranton Aces
(1975/76-80/81, as Wilkes-Barre Barons in 1975/76; moved to Brooklyn during 1975/76 season; as Brooklyn Pros in 1975/76; as Wilkes-Barre Barons in 1976-77-78/79; as Pennsylvania Barons in 1979/80)

Shreveport Storm
(1983/84-95/96, as Sarasota Stingers in 1983/84-84/85; as Florida Stingers in 1985/86; as Charleston Gunners in 1986/87-88/89; as Columbus Horizon in 1989/90-93/94; as Shreveport Crawdads in 1994/95)

Sioux Falls Skyforce
(1989/90-00/01; 2001/02-2005/06, as Sioux Falls Sky Force in 1989/90-00/01) (to NBA Development League in 2006/07)

SoCal Legends

Springfield Hall of Famers
(1968/69, disbanded during season)

Sunbury Mercuries

Syracuse Centennials
(1976/77, disbanded during season)

Trenton Capitols
(1955/56, replaced by New York-Harlem Yankees during season)

Trenton Colonials

Trenton Capitols

Tri-City Chinook
(1982/83-86/87, 1988/89-94/95, as Ohio Mixers in 1982/83-83/84; as Cincinnati Slammers in 1984/85-86/87; as Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets in 1988/89-90/91)

Utah Eagles

Vancouver Dragons

Wilkes-Barre Aces
(1952/53) (from Pottsville Packers, folded in mid-season)

Wilkes-Barre Barons
(1946/47, 1954/55-73/74)

Williamsport Billies

Wyoming Wildcatters

Yakima Sun Kings
(1985/86-00/01, 2002/03-present, as Kansas City Sizzlers in 1985/86; as Topeka Sizzlers in 1986/87-89/90)

York Victory A.C.
(1948/49-1949/50), later as York Professionals (1950/51), later as York Cleaners (1951/52), moved in mid-season as Ashland Greens, moved again in mid-season as Hazleton Mountaineers

Info taken from

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.