Tulsa's 66ers prepare to kickoff season

Thursday, November 17th 2005, 10:06 am
By: News On 6

They're walking tall and have a spring in their step at the fairgrounds pavilion. Basketball returns to the historic building Friday night, when the Tulsa 66ers tip off for the first-time ever.

The minor-league team is a new addition to the NBA's Developmental League, or "D"-League.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says they’ve got major talent. You might not have heard of the Tulsa 66ers, but you'll recognize a face or two. Take John Lucas, for instance. "Y’know we’re going to have a lot of players from different teams who can flat-out play, who's been in big schools and played in the NBA for a little while." Former OSU great John Lucas is just one of the standouts on the team.

There's also Bernard King, the leading scorer in Texas A&M history, who'll be lining up with his old Big 12 foe. "I mean, it's good. I played against him. He's a good player, and I think we can do some good things together."

"These are players that are this close to being on an NBA roster." Though it's minor-league, owner David Kahn says these are players on their way up, not out. They're fresh out of college like Lucas. Or they're like 18-year-old Ersan Ilyasova from Turkey, who has a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, but with new league rules, has to play in the D-League until he's 19. "We have folks that are going to be on NBA rosters, folks who are already on NBA rosters. The talent is tremendous."

John Lucas: “you're going to see a lot of players that are hungry, you know what I mean by that, just players that will flat-out play, y'know no slacking off, because you never know when you're going to get that chance to go up."

Even though the 66ers are new, they're playing in one of Tulsa's most historic buildings the Fairground Pavilion, and owners are excited. Kahn says they'll have a contest to name the top 20 players who have played in the Pavilion over the years. "Wes Unseld, Oscar Robertson, Elvin Hayes, Bobby "Bingo" Hayes. Those are names that are synonymous in NBA history."

Meanwhile, these guys hope to make their own history. John Lucas: "I hope so. I miss OSU, playing in a sold-out arena every night, and it would be great to have the same experience here."

Game-time is 7 o'clock Friday night at the Pavilion. Tickets range from $9 to $21.