View Full Version : La Crosse could join D-League

Minor League Man
03-10-2007, 10:23 PM

Ekker wants NBA Development League team in La Crosse

By JEFF BROWN / Tribune Sports Editor

Ron Ekker played a pivotal role in introducing minor league basketball to La Crosse in 1985, when he helped relocate the CBA’s Louisville Redbirds to La Crosse.

If you lived in La Crosse in the late 1980s and early 1990s, you likely remember the Catbirds. Considered a “model franchise,” the Catbirds regularly filled the La Crosse Center.

The CBA team that followed, the Bobcats, ceased operating in 2001 when the CBA folded. But Ekker dreams of making it all happen again.

Ekker has spent much of the past eight years as an NBA assistant coach with Dallas, Cleveland and Orlando. He’s a consultant for two prospective owners from

La Crosse who are interested in bringing an NBA Development League team to the city.

Former Bobcats coach and NBA scout Bill Klucas has spent the past two years working toward the same goal. Both men believe the city would be a perfect fit for the development league, or D League as it’s called, especially since the Development League is looking to expand from 12 teams in 2006-07 to 30 teams — one for each NBA team — in the next few years.

“Last summer I got a call from someone asking my advice on the fact that there was an ABA team trying to come into La Crosse,” Ekker said Friday night from his Cleveland, Ohio, home. “I would not do it. La Crosse knows too much of a good thing. It (ABA) would be a failure.

We interrupt this news article to bring you my opinion:

You're dead right about the ABA, Mr. Ekker! I think Paul is right about cheese being brain food, which is why the ABA has never been in Wisconsin.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled article...

“The only thing that is going to go into La Crosse is a (NBA) D League team. It migrated more toward me becoming more and more involved,” Ekker said.

Klucas, meanwhile, has worked quietly behind the scenes, attempting to put together an ownership group that would make a D League team a reality. He said he has several people committed to the group, but is still looking for the final piece of the puzzle.

“It (D League) would be a tremendous fit for La Crosse,” said Klucas, who still lives in the La Crosse area. “We need one key guy to be part of the ownership group. What you need is one owner who can leverage his venders or his business associates that can be turned into corporate sponsors.”

Both men have been in contact with La Crosse Center manager Art Fahey.

“Bill has been around and has always had an interest in this,” Fahey said. “Ron Ekker is a new entry into the marketplace (with the NBA D League). What they are both basically doing is trying to develop some interest as an ownership group.

“Can this work? Yes, there is a collective thought it can. They (Klucas and Ekker) were the ones who are the driving force behind it.”

Fahey cautioned that the latest attempt to land a minor league basketball team is in the very early stages, but said the fact that it is NBA-affiliated raises the stakes.

“The NBDL — that direct connection is a huge plus. There have been other leagues that have talked to us, but the NBA has it figured out,” Fahey said. “They also found out they need local owners.”

Tom Wagganer, the general manager of the Dakota Wizards of the NBA D League, believes La Crosse would be a great fit for the league.

“There is a history of basketball in the market,” Wagganer said. ... We would love to see them in the league.”

Reasons I would LOVE to see a D-League team in La Crosse:

1. I'd FINALLY see a minor-league hoops team in Wisconsin!
2. Excellent geographical fit, with Dakota, Sioux Falls, Iowa, and maybe Fort Wayne.
3. Could be the affiliate of either the Bucks or the T-Wolves.

Come on La Crosse!

Minor League Man
03-10-2007, 10:35 PM

I hope to get some merchandise if the LAX does get a team.

Minor League Man
03-10-2007, 11:17 PM
Bump again.

I also hope they have a name-the-team contest!

(P.S. Do I have to keep bumping this until somebody responds?)

03-11-2007, 09:55 AM
Nope, more La Crosse articles up in our D-League section today.

03-11-2007, 02:11 PM
Bump again.

I also hope they have a name-the-team contest!

(P.S. Do I have to keep bumping this until somebody responds?)


1) Not many people talk about the D-League here

2) Not many people are from Wisconsin here

3) Maybe you could wait for more than 30 minutes before waiting for a response.

Oh wait I mean. OMFG! LaCrosse might get a basketball team! That is off the shiznit hook! I'm gonna have to get season tickets!!!!1111 1337!!

(Was that what you bumped in the vain expectation of?)

03-12-2007, 03:02 PM
Oh wait I mean. OMFG! LaCrosse might get a basketball team! That is off the shiznit hook! I'm gonna have to get season tickets!!!!1111 1337!!
(Was that what you bumped in the vain expectation of?)

How L337 it is to be bumped by you! (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

That would be nice to have another team in the midwest area. New rivalries are always fun. Does LaCrosse have a professional lacrosse team?

04-18-2007, 02:11 AM
yes, Lacross is a Great Place for the NBDL to expand. Lacrosse has a very rich history in Minor League Basketball. the LaCross Catbirds were the 1990 & 1992 CBA Champs under Head Coach FLip Saunders. and when the team moved to Pittsburgh in 1995, we (Sioux Falls) grabed their Coach (Saunders) to become our coach in which turned our team around instantly.

Lacrosse with the exception of the Bobcats, always averaged between 3500-4500 fans a game. and before Rapid City and Sioux Falls came around, always lead the league in attendance. i think Lacross lead the CBA in attendance from 1986-1988, Rapid City lead the league from 1989-1994, and Siox Falls started their string of attendance titles in 1995. of course, Fort Wayne, Oklahoma City also lead the league a couple times here and there also.

and to make matters even wierder yet: Sioux Falls and Lacross kind of have a relationship together. having Flip Saunders, Ron Ekker, and Kevin McKenna (our coaches) all came from the Catbirds Franchise. and we made very good trade with them in 1991-92 for a guy named BOBBY PHILLS. who became Siioux Falls Skyforce's most polished NBA Player until his death. Phils played 33 games for the Skyforce in 1991-92 averaging 23.1ppg. then later played for the Cleveland Cavs, and the Charlotte Hornets from 1992-death (2001?)

YES !!! LACROSSE, come back to us !!!

I hope EKKER will be the coach. that will jumpstart our rivalry even more.