For the first in over 50 years, professional basketball is returning to Waterloo. Former waterloo Indians catcher Eddie Diaz is financing a team that will begin play in the new International Basketball League this spring. Diaz says they’re probably a lot of people asking questions about why he’s getting into basketball. He says the Cedar Valley needs more professional teams, and he has no doubt they’ll be successful.The Waterloo franchise is one of 15 that are committed to play a 20-game schedule, starting in April and continuing through mid-June. The unnamed team will be placed in a region that will also franchises in Joliet and Peoria, Illinois; and Kansas City, Missouri. IBL teams will also be located in Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, and Washington. Anthony Thomas has been tabbed to coach the Waterloo team. The former Waterloo West all-stater says the IBL will bring an exciting brand of basketball to the Cedar Valley. Thomas says the team will give players like Mike Henderson and Carlton Reed– Waterloo natives who are currently playing college basketball at Iowa — a chance to return home and continue their careers, if they don’t make the NBA. Thomas says they need to do more positive things for “our kids” and this gives them an opportunity to pursue their professional dream.Professional basketball was last played in Waterloo 53 years ago. The city had an NBA franchise in the league’s inaugural season in 1949-50. The Hawks joined the National Professional Basketball League for the 1950-51 season, and then folded.
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