June 4, 2004 - American Basketball Association (ABA)
Indianapolis, IN. Joe Newman, ABA co-founder, today announced that the 24th expansion team in the fast-growing professional basketball league will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico and will be comprised of Native American players. According to Newman, "We've been working with Spider Ledesma for over a year trying to put together an organization and team for Native America. With diversity a key ABA goal, we can't think of anything more fitting. We are very proud to have a team named "Native America" in the ABA and playing in the great city of Albuquerque."
The principal owner, CEO and President of the team is W.S. "Spider" Ledesma of the Mission tribe and of Mexican Indian ancestry. Ledesma is well-known throughout the Native American athletic community and first gained national attention in 1991 winning the first of his 5 National Championships and 3 MVP awards as a center for the Santa Clara Itashans. Spider has played for his distinguished Elder from the Oglala Sioux tribe, Clinton Pilcher, who is also the team VP of Basketball Operations. From the age of 14, he has been called the "greatest Native American player ever." Spider is the only Native American ever to have been one of the top 10 scoring leaders in Europe/FIBA (1991/92: 31.5ppg) and (1995/96: 35.8ppg - 1st in Div 1). Spider's career includes NBA Veteran's Camp (1987 & 1988) while leading the LA Clippers in the 1987 pre-season in rebounding.
Spider stated, "I love my people and the beginning vision that was given to me in 1997 by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The opportunity to help provide a balanced and stable lifestyle for our talented athletes (and they are talented) while promoting the strengths of our culture and the larger North American Indian community through the media platform the ABA enjoys will provide a tangible example of success not only to the international community but in particular to our native people, blessed youth and children." He added, "I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the ABA for assisting us tomake this much needed vision a reality in the lives of our people and athletes. They have welcomed us with open arms and taken an interest in seeing Native America succeed. We are grateful for their continued guidance, professionalism and time on our behalf."
Ledesma concluded, "Our National Team leadership will be in Albuquerque shortly to begin operations, including the selection of our playing venue. We will be meeting with several NA governors, including, but not limited to, Governor Lucero of the Isleta Pueblo, Governor Paisano of the Sandia Pueblo, Governor Vallo of the Acoma Pueblo, and the New Mexico native and mainstream media. Our President of New Mexico operations, Tamara L. Penn, is currently scheduling meetings with several Pueblo leaderships and Tribal Chairmen and councils to discuss immediate sponsorships and to generate the needed support to ensure a fiscally-sound season for all areas of operations. VP New Mexico Operations, LeAnne Slow-Rodriguez, is also assisting scheduling meetings with tribal leaderships concerning sponsorships."
All interested players of North American Indian descent can tryout for the Native
American National Team at various regional tryouts scheduled between July 10th in
Billings, MT and August 21st in Phoenix, AZ. For more information, log onto the
website: www.NativeAmericaCamps.com or contact Spider Ledesma at
NativeAmericaABA@aol.com or call (601) 799-1880.
Note: OurSports Central no longer actively covers the American Basketball Association (ABA) as a professional league due in part to its inability to publish and play a schedule and the transitory nature of many of its teams. For information on professional minor leagues, please see OSC's basketball section.