Last night, the Jacksonville Giants defeated the Windy City Groove for a second time, sweeping their best-of-three series and winning their third ABA championship.
The team had previously won in 2012 and 2013. Guard Maurice Mickens was named the Finals MVP, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Former league MVP Jermaine Bell added a team-high 24 points.
We mentioned the other day that the Giants were heading to the Finals. Specifically, we discussed the fact that no one seemed to be taking notice of the Giants, who have now won three championships in just six years of existence.
One can only hope that this latest title will encourage a revival of interest in the team. While the team draws record crowds by ABA standards, they’re still routinely far from filling the Veterans Memorial Arena. The team may need to revisit its public relations efforts, but there’s also no reason we can’t take the initiative as Jacksonville residents to show support for the team.
There is more reason to do so now than ever before. At the beginning of the year, the NBA’s Orlando Magic announced that they wished to form their own NBA D-League team to be located within Florida. The team named four cities as finalists for receiving the team — one of which was Jacksonville.
To an extent, we already have an advantage over the competition. The Magic often conduct their training camp in Jacksonville, usually also holding a team scrimmage here that’s open to the public.
However, the lack of attention paid to the Giants may hurt us. Why would we need a D-League team if we can’t support an ABA team?
It’s quite possible that the Giants would simply switch leagues rather than a new franchise being created; after all, owner Ron Sholes has been committed to boosting the profile of professional basketball in Jacksonville, even stating that he believes the city could one day gain an expansion NBA franchise. If this were to happen, would the city gain a sustainable interest in the team that has, up to this point, been lacking?
There is no doubt that gaining the Magic’s D-League affiliation would be huge for the city. If we want to see that happen, maybe it’s time to start celebrating the team we already have. After all, they just gave us a fantastic reason to do so.