Byline: Keith Marder Staff writer
Coach Bill Musselman says he will make his return to Albany in October when the Minnesota Timberwolves play the New Jersey Nets in a National Basketball Association exhibition game at the Knickerbocker Arena.
Although Arena manager Pat Lynch said those plans are not yet final, he promised other major league exhibition games at the Knick. He said the Knick will have 'definitely two, maybe three' National Hockey League exhibition games, and there is the possibility of another NBA game.
The NHL exhibition season runs from mid-September until early October.
Musselman, who coached the Albany Patroons to a Continental Basketball Association championship in 1988, confirmed the Timberwolves' game at the Knick. Musselman is in his first year as coach of the expansion Timberwolves.
The Nets-Timberwolves game will be part of a Knick exhibition schedule that may include many as five games, according to Lynch.
The NBA exhibition season usually runs during the final three weeks of October.
Lynch said he has been in contact with many teams, adding he would only bring in one with a high profile.
'I'm sure you'll see one of the New York (NHL) teams,' Lynch said, 'and you can expect you'll see the Flyers.'
The Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL are owned by Ed Snider, who also owns the Spectacor Management Co., which runs the Knickerbocker Arena.
Other NHL teams he said he is actively seeking include the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens. NBA teams include the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls (who are coached by Phil Jackson, another former Patroons coach), New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers.
'We're talking to all of them,' Lynch said. 'We'd like to stick to the big names. If I didn't think the fans would accept it and come to it, I wouldn't book it.'
Musselman and the Timberwolves seem like a natural draw. Besides Musselman, four other members of the championship 1987-88 Patroons are currently members of the Timberwolves. Tod Murphy, the championship series Most Valuable Player, 1988 CBA Player of the Year Tony Campbell, Scott Roth and Sidney Lowe are on the 'Wolves' roster. That team played in the Washington Avenue Armory.
'I would enjoy it,' Murphy said. 'But I would rather play in the Armory.'
When pressed further, Murphy added: 'Not really, but that sounds good doesn't it? But I do look forward to playing in Albany and seeing the people.'
Musselman, who said he will leave his CBA-trademark leather coat in the closet, said he suggested the game to Timberwolves vice president of marketing and sales Tim Leiweke.
'That game should create some interest,' Musselman said. 'The people of Albany really treated me great. There are a lot of basketball fans there. When we played in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York, a lot of them came to see us. I think it's a hell of a thing; it should draw a great crowd. It's a great thing for Albany.'
Lynch said the Nets became involved when vice president of basketball and business development Willis Reed came to the Knick to scout players in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in March. Reed, who also scouted players at Patroons games, spoke to Lynch and said he was impressed with the new facility.
Lynch also said that the exhibition season is a good time to book an event for the Knick because the Patroons don't start until November. The Albany Admirals of the proposed Global Hockey League would not start until November.
'Down the road, we plan to go after more events,' Lynch said. 'We haven't had a hell of a lot of time to showcase the arena yet.'
In the past, there have been exhibition NHL games at RPI's Houston Field House and exhibition NHL and NBA games at the Glens Falls Civic Center.