NBA Maine Basketball is looking to their fans to help name Maine’s new entry in the NBA Development League, scheduled to begin play next season.

Fans can go online at www.nbamaine.com, call the team’s office at 210-6655 to help select the name for their team. There are seven names fans can choose from; Maine Beacons, Maine Crushers, Maine Claws, Maine Destroyers, Maine Red Claws, Maine Swarm and Maine Traps. The team will also choose one randomly selected voter to receive two tickets to a 2009 Boston Celtics playoff game.

The league announced the new Portland franchise at a press conference last week in Portland.

The franchise will be owned and operated by Maine Basketball, LLC, which is principally owned by Bill Ryan Sr., the chairman of TD Banknorth Group and Bill Ryan Jr., who owns and operates Oxford Plains Speedway. Jon Jennings, a partner in Maine Basketball, LLC and former Boston Celtics assistant coach, will serve as the team’s president and general manager.

The NBA Development League, founded in 2001, is the NBA’s official minor league and features 16 teams with direct affiliations to NBA teams. The league has produced 15 percent of the players on 2007-2008 end-of-season NBA rosters and continues to develop current NBA coaches and referees.

“Expansion to Portland is another example of the health and growth of the NBA D-League,” said NBA D-League President Dan Reed. “We are very pleased to add Bill Ryan Sr., Bill Ryan Jr., and Jon Jennings to our ownership ranks, as they bring a wealth of business, sports operations, and basketball experience on behalf of the team and the community. I’m confident that fans throughout the state of Maine will enjoy our world-class level of basketball featuring current and future NBA players, as well as appreciate the team’s family-friendly environment, affordable prices, and positive impact on the Portland and Maine community.”

“I’m overjoyed to bring NBA D-League basketball to Portland,” said Jennings. “We’ve already established strong relationships with the people of this community, and we can’t wait to get underway next season. I know that this team will have a long and exciting future in Maine.”

Portland will be affiliated with two NBA team parent-clubs, which will be able to assign their first and second year players to the club a maximum of three times during a season. Thus far, the 2008-2009 NBA D-League season has had 22 NBA players assigned on 24 occasions to NBA D-League affiliates as players continue to develop their game. An announcement regarding Portland’s NBA team affiliations will occur during the offseason.

But before play can get started, the team needs a name, and that’s where the fans come in.

“We are excited about getting input from our fans on our team name. The fans are what this is all about and we can’t wait to see what they decide.” said Jennings.

To enter the contest, fans need to visit www.nbamaine.com, call 210-6655 to help select the name before March 31. The team will announce its new team name on or about April 3.

The team will begin play in November at the Portland Expo. Fans can purchase season ticket packages by calling 210-6655 or visit www.nbamaine.com for more information.


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