For Los Angeles Lakers fans and basketball fans who still have that itch to watch professional level ballers locally, there's another team of serious players still playing right here in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Lightning are part of the IBA, the Independent Basketball Association and the team tours and plays in the US and around the world with seven NBA veterans.
There are less than 500 active player slots in the NBA and with all the top college players available, as well as NBA veterans who are no longer one of those 500, they need a place to play. There are other professional basketball leagues around the world and in the US and the Los Angeles Lightning acts as a development and touring team for NBA-level players.
Tyus Edney (Sacramento Kings, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers) is on the team, along with Juaquin Hawkins (Houston Rockets) and Toby Bailey (Phoenix Suns). Fred Vinson (Atlanta Hawks, Seattle Supersonics), Bryon Russell (Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards), Darick Martin (Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks) are also on the Lightning's 2012 roster. The team includes many college stars with various international professional experience as well.
The IBA provides an opportunity for these players to keep their skills up. The games are exciting and high scoring, the game on June 15 saw the team beat the Malibu Pirates 147-94 . The Lightning were the 2009 International Basketball League champions and in 2012 have gone 10-2, with one game remaining in the season.
The team fosters a close relationship between the players and the fans, after each game the players come on the court for autographs and pictures.
Where they play
The team plays home games in Thousand Oaks, California, about 40 minutes from downtown LA in an arena at Cal Lutheran University. It's a fan friendly-environment with reasonably priced tickets and free parking.
The 2012 regular season winds down with a game Saturday night June 16 against the Malibu Pirates and I think the Lightning will win as they've won 28 of their last 33 home games. After the Lakers' loss, we need a basketball championship here in Los Angeles.
The team is very involved in the local community and does a ticket-split with local charities. Tickets are priced at $20 for general admission and $100 for courtside seats, with the charity getting 50 percent of that price. Game tickets can be bought online and the charity designated as part of the purchase process. I became aware of the team as a friend of mine is involved in a music charity that funds music programs in schools (Rising Star Music Fund), and they participate in the ticket-split program. I think it's a great way for the team to sell tickets and get exposure with the local community, while the charity is able to raise funds as part of the process.
As a kid growing up in Philadelphia, Freddy Sherman was a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers during the days of Dr. J and Moses Malone. Since moving to Los Angeles , he's been a serious Lakers fan, attending games whenever possible. A fan of any team sporting the Purple and Gold, he also supports the Los Angeles Sparks. You can follow Freddy Sherman on Twitter - @thefredsherman.More from this contributor:
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