Friday, November 4, 2011

This Jersey City ABA basketball madness turned out to be a great experience for me: amaher

For NJ.com, I've had the task of covering the new Jersey Express ABA semi-pro basketball team as they make their move into Jersey City.  It's been an insane experience, talking with head Coach Terry Dehere and team owner Marsha Blount.

Just two weeks ago, I had to write a story about how excited everyone was in the organization about the hiring of Dehere and Wright (pictured below) but last night, I got a phone call from Marsha Blount, and she told me that Terry and Luther had both resigned.

I was like, OH WORD? I just told all of Jersey City that they were about to kill the game and shit like two weeks ago Marsha..what gives?

Apparently, the ownership and Terry had a serious falling out, and as I tried to play thousandaire matchmaker, with the kids on the team's best interests in mind, shit really hit the fan.

My editors made me tone it down. "This isn't the Yankees, Adam," and I tried, which may have diluted the story a tad, but regardless, it was insane and awesome to play mediator for a whole day between the ownership and the head coach of the Jersey Express:

Last Friday, Oct. 28, The Jersey Express officially opened up training camp for their inaugural Jersey City home-court campaign, and their first game of the 2011-2012 ABA season, against the Staten Island Vipers, is set to tip off on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. at the Jersey City Armory, located at 678 Montgomery St. near McGinley Square - tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for kids.

Dehere and Wright both were NBA 1st rounders.

Nine players, including Zahir Carrington, Dexter Gray, and Darnell Braswell, had already signed on with the team for the season at that point, and as of this weekend, seven players are still battling for three spots left on the roster for opening night, according to a Nov. 3 statement from team-owner Marsha Blount.

Two men that will not be present opening night, regardless of level of play, however, are Terry Dehere and Luther Wright, who were both hired this fall to coach the team.

This news comes as a shock to The Jersey Journal. A cover story for our sports section was put in print just two weeks ago about the Express' excitement that former NBA first-round draft picks Terry Dehere and Luther Wright were hired as a head coach/assistant coach tandem.

Apparently we weren't the only ones who didn't see this coming.

"It comes as unexpected," Blount said, "But I've been in this business a long time, and we will move on."

"Mr. Dehere failed to respond to numerous calls and text messages from myself and assistant coach Joe Amador (who has assumed Dehere's head coaching responsibilities) for the last two weeks," Blount went on to say.

Terry Dehere released a statement explaining his departure.

"Myself and the Jersey Express management were unable to agree upon contractual obligations," Dehere said, "Basketball is my first love, and I was very excited about this opportunity, and thankful, but I simply cannot continue to extend myself without proper compensation."

Clearly, Dehere wanted more money, and communications broke down fast.

Friday afternoon Dehere said he was willing to talk face to face, and find a resolution, but Blount said the team has moved on, and is ready to start the season.

amador.jpg

The new coach, Joe Amador, a former college basketball standout at St. Lawrence College, who signed on with the Express' coaching staff last season, works at a major IT staffing firm as a full-time employee in Cedar Knolls, N.J. on top of his new coaching job.

Amador said the main reason he decided to come back for another year was because of the great work Blount put in during the off-season, and he seems to be unfazed by the Dehere-Blount drama.

"This is exciting times for the Jersey Express and the ABA. With no foreseeable future of an NBA team in the state of New Jersey, the Jersey Express will provide a very affordable, fun and exciting experience for families in New Jersey, as the only remaining professional basketball team in the state. I look forward to a championship season and continuing the Jersey Express's success within the historical ABA."

If there is as much drama on the court as there has been of the court, The Jersey City Express should hold true to Amador's claims, and make for some fantastic winter entertainment in Hudson County.

Sadly, the two had to split ways. I tried my hardest, but in the end, it was to no avail.

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