The Ohio Kings got off to a royal 10-4 start to their inaugural season, and were set to host their first ever playoff game in the American Basketball Association, when it all came to a swift end due to the COVID-19.
“Obviously we were excited about everything we accomplished and just thank everybody associated," Ohio Kings majority owner Kevin L. Aldridge said. "Our coaches players, staff, volunteers and fans, but it's disappointing.”
The team fell short of their crowning moment on the court, but the Kings organization is proud of its accomplishments off the court.
“Basketball was the centerpiece but we wanted to include the community,” Aldridge said.
The ownership group started a grassroots build in 2019, to give fans something affordable and fun.
“We were kind of unsure of how we would be accepted in the community, being a small business, a small team, but we had a vision of being a great team in this area that could entertain Cincinnati,” Kings General Manager Kelvin Moss said.
Game experiences included an arts and crafts kids zone and a Middletown barber giving out free hair cuts during home games at Cincinnati State. At season's end, more than 100 haircuts were given out to Cincinnati youth.
“When you can't afford something and you can go to a game and get a free haircut, I think that's the cool thing,” Moss said.
On the court, players persevered through life challenges.
“I know these guys want to be a practice, but they got jobs, too," Kings head coach Lannis Timmons said. "Then guys come in at game time and step it up.”
Kings players Dwayne Bazemore and Ethan Bradshaw stepped up supremely to earn ABA All-Star selections. Even though they won't be able to compete in the game, the organization is thrilled at the opportunity to give the athletes a second chance to fulfill their dreams.
“Our goal is not to keep our better guys on our roster," Moss said. "We want to see them make it to another level. We want a revolving door with our roster. If players are staying with us, we are doing something wrong. Our goal is to get them overseas.”
The Kings want to go to the next level too. The team has already secured Staples as a new partner for next season and discussions are under way to revamp the marketing plan to have a wider reach in year two.
“That gives us an opportunity to put our thinking caps on to figure out how we can bring a better performance to Cincinnati next year,” Moss said. "We're just getting started."