Over the last decade, Flint residents have not had much to cheer for. Fortunately, a hometown native aims to change that.
And he plans to do that with professional basketball.
Kevin Mays, a former standout All-American and two-sport athlete at Central Michigan University, is bringing men’s pro-basketball back to the city.
On September 17th, Mays announced his ownership of the Flint United, a new franchise in The Basketball League (TBL). He intends the team will become a “vehicle to uplift residents with all the hardships the city has encountered.”
This is Flint’s first pro-basketball team in 14 years.
“My goals for the franchise and the league are to provide opportunities for athletes and professionals to maximize their potential, no matter what that is,” said Mays.
“Bringing this organization to my hometown community is at the forefront, and I know I don’t stand alone in that mission. Community development is the ultimate focus of the league, our front office, as well as every other franchise across the nation.”
Flint is no stranger to a native bringing pro-basketball back home.
A New Chapter
In 2001, Flint-native Jeff Grayer helped create the Flint Fuze, a team that played in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association. The former All-American and NBA journeyman also served as the franchise’s first head coach. The franchise folded in 2004. Even though the Fuze did not have long-term success, that is not discouraging Mays. Quite frankly, Mays anticipates a potential conversation with Grayer at some point.
“I definitely hope to speak with Jeff Grayer and learn about his experience with the Fuze. I’m not really educated on all of the obstacles they may have faced,” said Mays.
“But for us to be successful, I’ll lean heavily on my knowledge base that’s been developed through sports business over the last ten years and provide a solid infrastructure through that time. I’ve had the privilege to work for and alongside some of the best in the industry and hope to bring a wealth of knowledge to the area.”
And Mays has the business acumen to back up that claim.
Previously, he served as Director of Athletic Fundraising and Development at Central Michigan University. He was also the Director of Sales for the Flint Firebirds––a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League. The United does not have a home playing location as of right now.
Mays stated that COVID-19 would be a determining factor in the decision. He expects the team to make an official announcement on it in the coming weeks ahead.
Along with that, there will be a player combine on the horizon to fill out the United roster.
What is the TBL?
According to Mays, they’ll select talent through an in-state and regional combine process. Combine location options will be Flint, Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw.
“We also hope to tap into Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois markets as well,” says Mays. “The league hosts combines across the country as well that we can scout talent from also.”
For those unfamiliar, The Basketball League is a minor basketball league. It is owned by President Dave Magley and CEO Evelyn Magley; an African-American woman who is also the first woman to own a male sports league in the United States.
The league currently has teams in 22 markets, with two more on the horizon.
The inaugural season for the United will begin in 2021.
So what can basketball fans expect from the new franchise?
“Our first goal is to win games, I mean, is there anything else besides winning?” said Mays.
“But, seriously, we want to be competitive, exciting, and electric. I’ve received about a dozen YouTube links, and some talented athletes are looking for a place to build a championship culture.”
Mays knows a thing or two about a championship culture.
While at Central Michigan University, where he graduated, he lettered in football and track and field. He was also a member of the 2007 MAC Football Championship team that consisted of JJ Watt and Antonio Brown. He also earned All-American honors for track and field.
In the eyes of Mays, the United have a chance to duplicate the success of the Flint City Bucks and Flint Firebirds. He doesn’t want to stop just there though.
“We hope to meet and exceed those expectations,” said Mays.
The 2021 TBL season will run next March-May, with playoffs starting in June.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter @koryewoods