The father of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is a key partner in launching the Phoenix Fury, an American Basketball Association expansion team.
Former NBA player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant might coach the Fury, although the Los Angeles resident said Thursday that he remains "undecided."
The potential of Bryant's move surprised even Kobe, who heard the news through the media and called saying, "Hey Dad, you're going to Phoenix?"
Bryant is the Fury's operational director and will join CEO Xavier Mitchell at Phoenix Greenway High at 9 a.m. Friday to interview potential Fury players, coaches, sponsors and dancers.
The ABA season begins in early December. The league has been criticized for organizational flaws, quick folds and sub-par play.
The original ABA merged with the NBA in 1976 after experiencing financial struggles from limited television exposure.
A new league with the same ABA name launched in 2000 and revived the classic ABA's signature red, white and blue ball.
The league has about 50 teams in locations such as Nashville, Detroit, Los Angeles and Buffalo.
Bryant said the Fury will save traveling costs by playing nearby teams, such as Prescott Valley's Arizona Rhinos and the San Diego Wildcats.
Bryant and Mitchell said they remain optimistic about the Fury's survival if the community rallies in support.
"This is supposed to be Phoenix's basketball team," Mitchell said. "There is a hot bed of talent here."
Players of interest include former high school standouts and Division II or III college players, Bryant said. He reiterated that potential players must be committed to community service.
"Don't look at us just as wins or losses," he said. "Look at what we're doing in the community."
Bryant, a former coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, also said he hopes the Fury set a precedent for welcoming women to the ABA.
"We are not going to exclude women," he said. "A lot of women can play with the guys."
ABA salaries range from $200 to "five-figure amounts" per game, Mitchell said.
The Greenway gymnasium, which seats around 2,000, will serve as the Fury's home court. Mitchell originally explored Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum as a potential venue but opted for Greenway because of the smaller size and partnership with the school.
Mitchell said he plans to charge about $7 for admission.
Mitchell and Bryant did not specify a timeline for choosing the team, but they encouraged fans to suggest talented local players by visiting thephoenixfury.com.