Don’t be mad that the Erie Bayhawks are gone. Be glad they happened.

Today, Erie Basketball Management, LLC announced it had finally run out of rabbits to pull out of their hat: the Erie BayHawks will cease operations after failing to secure an affiliation with an NBA team for the 2021-2022 season. Professional basketball in Erie is no more.

This sucks and while I’m sure the comments section will wholeheartedly disagree, it really is nobody’s fault. Sometimes things just don’t work out. To illustrate just how chaotic affiliations are in the NBA G League, consider the following:

  • 2008: Erie BayHawks established, affiliated with Cleveland Cavs and Philadelphia 76ers
  • 2009: 76ers end affiliation with BayHawks (I think they left for Delaware?)
  • 2009: BayHawks add Toronto Raptors affiliation
  • 2011: Raptors leave Erie for Mississauga
  • 2011: Cavs leave Erie for the Canton Charge
  • 2011: BayHawks add New York Knicks affiliation
  • 2014: Knicks leave Erie for Westchester, NY
  • 2014: BayHawks add Orlando Magic affiliation
  • 2016, Dec.: Magic purchase BayHawks franchise, move to Lakeland, FL.
  • 2017, Jan.: Erie somehow convinces Atlanta Hawks to play in Erie while their arena is under construction in College Park, GA.
  • 2018: New Orleans Pelicans announce they’ll have a G League team in Birmingham, AL when some renovations are done. What’s this got to do with Erie? Stay tuned!
  • 2019: Construction is completed in College Park. Hawks leave Erie.
  • 2019: Erie needs an NBA affiliate, New Orleans Pelicans need a place to crash. Another marriage of convenience!
  • 2020: Wizards blow into Erie as an additional affiliate – then quickly leave.
  • 2021: Pelicans leave for Birmingham, as intended. The music stops with no chair left for Erie.

That is a level of turnover matched in modern times only by the introductory months of the Trump administration. Of course, there were many memorable moments in between. Who could forget Lin-sanity making a quick stop in Erie for a heroic triple-double in 2012 before joining the Knicks?

Jeremy Lin played in Erie for exactly one game, nuking the Maine Red Claws for 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists.

Then there was the time the BayHawks dropped their name and uniforms for some random game in favor of this pepperoni ball-inspired world historical masterpiece:

That really happened. | Photo via Rebecca Goldsmith.

In the middle of all of this madness, Erie Insurance acquired naming rights for the arena the BayHawks played in and renovated it. Their next door neighbor, the SeaWolves (AA minor league baseball affiliate of the Detroit Tigers), sold their stadium’s naming rights to a hospital chain and were told they’d get the axe unless they too committed to multi-million dollar renovations. So they did! Then they were told they’d get the axe anyway. Then, “Psyche! You guys are back in.” The SeaWolves’ home opener is Tuesday, May 11.

Does all of that sound absolutely crazy to you? Yes? Good. That’s life in the minor leagues. Long bus rides/multiple layovers, low salaries, gimmicky promotions, ownership buying and selling teams in between making impossible demands of their hosts. It’s like Get Him to the Greek, for mid-sized cities.

“This is rock and roll, mate. That’s all it is.” -Aldous Snow

The only wonder is that this worked out so well in Erie for so long. Against all odds, Erie Basketball Management’s president, Matt Bresee, and managing partner Owen McCormick had gotten Aldous Snow on stage for 13 entertaining, memorable years. They worked the phones, thought outside the box, chased down every last possibility to keep this thing going. Let’s not bitch about whose fault it is that this didn’t work out. We all owe Bresee, McCormick, and everyone else who played a role in making the BayHawks happen a debt of gratitude.

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