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Published: Friday, 2/2/2007

Royal Knights fold after 4 games, frustrating ABA co-founder

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Williams Williams
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The Toledo Royal Knights planned on playing 21 games as the newest franchise in the American Basketball Association.

But a lack of financial support led to the Knights ending their season after only four games. ABA co-founder and chairman Joe Newman said the Knights' season officially ended on Wednesday.

"I don't want to talk about Toledo any more this year," Newman said. "Toledo is a great city. I just haven't had the right [situation].

"I'm totally disappointed. Overall, it's caused me grief and I'm tired of this stopping and starting."

The Knights, who lost all four games, came about roughly a month after Toledo's initial ABA franchise, the Toledo Ice, was disbanded for similar financial problems after playing only one game in November.

Former Scott High coach Ben Williams, who served as the Knights' nonpaid general manager, had hoped the team would develop community support.

That wasn't the case.

"I'm not disappointed that we tried to do this," Williams said. "It took a lot of courage to try this and I'm glad we tried."

Williams also envisioned the Knights becoming a franchise that would reach out and give back to the community, particularly within the inner-city. The Knights were in the process of organizing a mentoring program with local schools.

"That's more disappointing than anything because the biggest part of my life has been working with young people," Williams said. "For some reason we couldn't convince people we were worthy of doing great things, not just for the players on the floor."

The Knights were scheduled to play 13 home games, which were scheduled at several high school gyms throughout the Toledo area. Their half-season schedule was also to include eight road games. Their season ended with a 131-127 loss to the Peoria Kings at Waite on Jan. 23.

Knights officials decided to end the season less than a month after their first game.

"Everything was professional and above board. We did everything we could and we put a lot of time into it," Williams said. "We made sure we kept enough money to pay the players we owed, and we've done that."

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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