By Roderick Wilbon, Sports Editor

Saint Louis used to have an American Basketball Association (ABA) basketball team called the Spirits of St. Louis between 1974 and 1976. Their home for games was the then St. Louis Arena, and they have long been gone and missed. But change is here and they do not have to be missed anymore. The ABA announced in June that it has added the St. Louis Spirits to its growing list of expansion teams for the upcoming season.

“This is very exciting for us,” stated ABA co-founder Joe Newman. “The original Spirits of St. Louis were a legendary ABA team, the city where NBC’s Bob Costas got his start in sports as the announcer and home of many legendary ABA players. It is about time we returned and with a great new owner.”

The team’s owner is Damon L. Cannon, an avid sports enthusiast and a Riverview Gardens High School graduate who played baseball, football, and wrestling. He is also an alumnus of the University of Tulsa and Southeast Missouri State universities where he played football.

He currently owns the St. Louis Spirit professional football team and is co-owner of the 3-time champion Midwest Chargers football team. Cannon is a Chief Apostle of the United Body of Christ Ministries. “I am a native of St. Louis and love being involved in community access projects,” said Cannon. “My current project is Thrush 5000 Community Enhancement Project which works on cleaning up the neighborhood and thriving to change the image of an at-risk community. I am looking forward to establishing a team in the ABA and will do everything in my power to be an asset to the organization.”

Saint Louis has the Saint Louis Surge, a professional women’s basketball team. The Surge have been in town for years now and are very successful. Even though we do not seem to be a basketball town and the industry seems to say the same, Cannon does not believe it. Cannot said, “We’re more of a basketball town than most people think.”

ABA differs from the many leagues and rules of basketball. It is not the Harlem Globetrotters where it is mostly entertainment, and it is not like the NBA where there are more rules and a slower pace. “We’re bringing the best of both worlds for the casual basketball fan and the hardcore fans,” said Cannon. “Our games will be like All-Star games with way more defense and pushing the ball.”

On September 7 the team had a professional meet and greet at Bar101. Fans, VIPs, and professionals came out to meet the team. The St. Louis Spirits will host an ABA Hurricane Relief Charity Volleyball Challenge at Bar 101 on September 30. For $40 dollars, attendees receive lunch, beverages, and volleyball registration. All the proceeds are donated. Fans can meet some of the hometown heroes like Dwayne Polk and Johnny Cooper.

The St. Louis Spirit will open the season on October 7 with their first home game at Saint Louis Community College-Florissant Valley against the Kansas City Soul. The game will also benefit the Journey Against Domestic And Sexual Abuse at www.raceforjadasa.org.

For more information on The St. Louis Spirit basketball team www.basketballspiritstl.net.