New Professional Team Set to Call Atlantic City, NJ, Home in 2022
Another professional basketball team is ready to call Atlantic City home.
The Atlantic City Gambits of The Basketball League (TBL) are set to call the resort home for the upcoming 2022 season and hope to bring a different level of basketball to the community.
"Fans can expect to see high-level professional athletes," said Gambits owner DeShawn Ward. "Former high major Division I athletes, the top Division I athletes just missing the right exposure to earn big money overseas. Guys fighting to get in the NBA's G league."
Ward is a local product, who understands the obstacles and challenges operating a team in Atlantic City can bring. The now-defunct Atlantic City Seagulls didn't even make it through the season during their recent return to the ABA, announcing back on Dec 18, 2021, that they were leaving the city after just six games.
"I'm born and raised in Atlantic City," said Ward. "I'm 29 years old played youth sports football, basketball, and baseball my entire childhood in Atlantic City."
Ward is the founder of the Stay Hungry summer league, which had a successful launch in Atlantic City in the summer of 2020. The league grew in three short years to a summer Pro-AM with current & former NBA players coming from all over the tri-state area to compete for the summer champion.
Other leagues and teams have tried to make it work in the gambling resort, but Ward thinks the Gambits are different based on the level of play and competition that Atlantic City will get to see.
"I think the big difference between those leagues and TBL is this league has some real big-time exposure and potential to be the face of professional sports in Atlantic City," Ward explained. "I believe my strong connection from the community and the relationships I've built outside of Atlantic City will help benefit the gambits as we are a homegrown organization."
Ward mentioned that TBL has some high-profile owners in its league, guys like Kendrick Perkins who owns the Beaumont Panthers, and Steve Francis who owns the Houston Push.
The team plans to play its home games at Atlantic City high school and hopes to be playing their season's home games in front of a packed house in the near future.
"I envision the AC gambits playing our home games in front of a packed house, either inside of a casinos ballroom like Hard Rock or playing inside Boardwalk Hall," Ward stated. "I vision the gambits being a destination team for the top athletes, as we would have been well known for helping athletes further their careers."
The Gambits will be led by Elijah Thorpe as their head coach and Kamau Johnson is the team's President of basketball operations and former Atlantic City Vikings star Frank Turner is the team's general manager.
Turner is a very familiar name in Atlantic City. He had a 10-year professional career and is a member of the first-ever state title team at Atlantic City high.
The league is currently scheduled to have 42 teams, with the Gambits competing in the Northeast Division.
Tryouts for the Gambits will take place Sunday, Jan. 30 in Houston, at the Lloyd Ward PAL Building on New York ave in Atlantic City from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The is a $100 fee to register ($50 if you are an Atlantic City resident), with other events scheduled for the weeks ahead, including a press conference, volunteer work with local boys teams and teen centers once the final roster is set.
According to the league's official website, the Gambits are scheduled to open the season on March 5 in Atlantic City.