(Long Island, NY) Recently I wrote a column on the Long Island Ducks hockey team from 1959-1973. Some people may have been surprised that there was a team with that name before the baseball team that exists today. But now I’m ready to shock even those who may have known about the hockey club.
There was another professional sports team called the Long Island Ducks. And they didn’t play hockey or baseball. For one season in the old Eastern Basketball Association, hoop fans on the island had their own team. (The Nets had already moved to New Jersey after the ABA-NBA merger)
The 1977-1978 EBA season had the Long Island Ducks participate in their Eastern Division. They were actually successful on the court, finishing in second place with a 15-15 record. They finished four and a half games behind the Jersey Shore Bullets. The Ducks qualified for the playoffs but were swept in two games by the Lancaster Red Roses by scores of 166-149 and142-136.
Their lone season in the EBA, the Long Island Ducks led the league in team defense, but had the second worst offense. Judging by the scores in the two playoff games, that is hard to believe. They seemed to be able to score in the series, but gave up an incredible amount of points to a team (Lancaster) that finished the regular season at 19-12 and five games back in the Western Division.
The Eastern Basketball Association would be renamed the Continental Basketball Association the following season and is still running today. It is the oldest continuous running basketball league in the history of the sport, even preceding the NBA by a few months in 1946.
Long Island also had a team in the EBA for the 1975-1976 season called the Long Island Sounds. They had an 8-15 record, finishing 14 games behind the Allentown Jets.
Other basketball teams that have called Long Island home have been the Long Island Knights and the Long Island Surf of the United States Basketball League. The USBL is called “The League of Opportunity”, and schedules its games in the spring and summer. The Knights’ played for one season in 1987, and their biggest attraction was signing Nancy Lieberman, the women’s basketball star. The Surf operated for a few seasons starting in 1991.
More recently, the Strong Island Sound are an expansion team in the new ABA and are competing this season to continue the tradition of pro basketball on Long Island.