Associated Press 3828d

D-League to put team in Springfield

NBA

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The birthplace of basketball is getting a pro team.

An NBA Development League team will begin play at Springfield's MassMutual Center in the 2009-2010 season, Michael Savit, managing partner of the ownership group, said Tuesday.

"We could have put this team anywhere in the country," said Savit, a Massachusetts native. "When we started looking, it seemed that as the birthplace of the sport, with strong high school and youth programs, and the fact it is so close to Connecticut with such a big basketball tradition, there was a lot of synergy in Springfield."

The team does not yet have a nickname or team colors.

The franchise will be operated by HWS Basketball, a subsidiary of HWS Group LLC, which operates a number of minor league baseball teams around the country.

The NBA approached HWS about operating a D-League team because of its success in operating baseball teams, Savit said.

The D-League, which has been playing for eight seasons and currently has 16 teams, serves as a feeder to the NBA.

The Springfield franchise is replacing the Anaheim Arsenal NBADL team, which was affiliated with the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Savit said the Springfield team's NBA affiliation is uncertain, but said it will probably be an East Coast team. He said it is unlikely to be the Boston Celtics, who are expected to affiliate with the D-League's newly announced Portland, Maine franchise.

Dr. James Naismith invented "Basket Ball" in 1891 when he nailed peach baskets at either end of the gym at the Springfield YMCA to give boys an indoor activity during the winter. The city is also the site of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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