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All White Basketball League Targets Chattanooga

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   A professional basketball league with supposed designs on Chattanooga is sparking controversy. That's because this league is only for white people.

    NewsChannel 9 spent the day trying to find out if the All-American Basketball Alliance is a legitimate effort. We shared the ideas of the League's Commissioner, Don "Moose" Lewis with local basketball players.

    Each of them thought it was a joke. Our calls and e-mail to Commissioner Lewis have not been returned. But reaction has been a blatant personal foul.

    In the movie "White Men Can't Jump," Woody Harrelson plays a street hustling white guy with game. But Commissioner Lewis wants to start an all white professional league with a much different style, what he calls "fundamentally sound."

   Lewis claims to target Chattanooga as a franchise. We bounced his idea off guys in a pick-up game at the downtown Y. After reading Lewis' press release, Dallas Ellis said, "That's insane."

   At first read, Brandon Ridgeway laughed, "You can't. You can't take it seriously, but at the same time you can."  So here's Lewis' spin on this hot button topic. He's targeted cities in the south, and says the league will be a return to fundamental basketball.

   He says white players are essentially "shut out" of professional basketball due to the growth of non-organized play calling fundamentally sound white players a "vanishing species." Lewis also referenced the Gilbert Arenas gun incident and Ron Artest's fight with fans in the stands several years ago.

   But Ridgeway takes great offense with this wrestling and boxing promoter's blanket statements,  tone and choice of words. Ridgeway said, "He's saying that we're thugs and that we're not fundamentally sound, that we just know about the streets. That's all we know is the streets."

    Ellis says there's no way this league will fly in Chattanooga, "This guy is so racist." Lewis' league, the All American Basketball Alliance, has some birthright barriers. It actually requires natural born American citizens and both parents must be caucasian. Ridgeway says if you want to make it in the professional leagues, only one qualification should apply. "You would think it wouldn't matter what race you are as long as you can play, that's all that should matter, right?"

    Ellis was stunned, repeatedly shaking his head as he read Lewis' release, "Geez, this is insane. I can't believe that someone would think that this would even float," Ellis said.

    So will this league take off or remain grounded? It has run into a lot of backlash.The league plans tryouts in its 12 selected cities, including here, and wants to tip off by mid summer.

    NewsChannel 9 spoke with Ralph Lewis, who identified himself as General Manager and a relative of Don Lewis. He would not give a physical address of the league's office in Atlanta, pointing to all the negative attention.

    He says the league will have a website next week. We will be following up on this story.



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