A few places took note of this earlier this week, but it appears that former UNLV Runnin' Rebel and Minnesota Timberwolf Isaiah Rider is set to join the North Texas Fresh of the ABA. What's that you say, you've never heard of the North Texas Fresh? Is that a basketball team? It is. As much as we have fun with D-League teams for calling themselves the Jam, the Red Claws, the Armor, etc., there is a basketball team out there called "the Fresh." It's mascot is a gorilla dressed like a 1930s gangster. It's motto is "Staying Fresh for the Community and Each Other." And no, I didn't make either of those things up.
Let's find out a little more about the Fresh, the ABA, and what exactly Isaiah Rider has been up to the last eight years, shall we?
As I mentioned above, the Fresh play in the ABA, the American Basketball Association. You may remember the ABA as the original home of Julius Erving, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore and Connie Hawkins, but this is apparently a different ABA, one that was founded a decade ago. By my count the league has 60 teams around the country, which is wayyyyyyyy too many. About half of those teams started in 2009, including the Fresh. After taking 2002-2003 off due to financial difficulties, the league came back and named John Salley - yes, that John Salley - as league commissioner, though he later had to resign due to a dispute among the league's Board of Directors. The ABA is probably best known around here for being the home of the Vermont Frost Heaves, the now-former team of new Bakersfield Jam coach Will Voigt.
The North Texas Fresh are one of those new expansion teams. Based in Fort Worth, they've been holding tryouts to see who will be picked for the team's "veterans camp," even though the team is new and everyone is listed as a rookie. Let's just say that Isaiah Rider would be the first player associated with the team that I am familiar with. According to the Fresh's website they're also "the fastest growing expansion team in the ABA," but I'm not really sure what that means since they haven't actually played any games yet. Maybe other teams haven't held tryouts yet?
As for Rider, he's had several run-ins with the law, getting arrested several times from 2006-2008 for things like firearms and narcotic possession and auto theft. There's been a lot of talk recently about Michael Beasley entering rehab, but Rider has admitted in the past that he was addicted to marijuana and had been using cocaine. Hopefully he's gotten his life together and will provide the boost that North Texas is looking for. If Dennis Rodman can coach, why can't Rider play again? According to Dime Magazine, Rider's agent says that he (Rider, not the agent) can still do everything he used to except the between-the-legs dunk he became famous for. I assume that means crazy falling-out-of-bounds, one-handed-over-your-shoulder shots are still in play.