CBA shuts down 2 months early

The Continental Basketball Association ended its season early Tuesday, forced to shut down two months ahead of schedule because of financial difficulties.

The regular season was scheduled to end March 15, but CBA commissioner Dennis Truax said the decision was made over the weekend to halt it now, with league's owners having trouble selling tickets in an uncertain economy.

The CBA hopes to return for another season in December, but Truax acknowledged that his league could be gone for good.

"All logical things that could happen and that's one of them, and I hope that doesn't happen," he said.

The league will stage a best-of-three finals series beginning Thursday between the Albany Patroons and Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry, who have the best records in the league. Truax said the owners felt having a series to crown a champion was "the honorable thing to end the season that way."

The CBA announced its plans Monday. Truax said in a statement there would be an owners meeting during the finals "to restructure the CBA."

Truax said that would include reviewing its expansion procedures in hopes of making the league "affordable and enticing for people."

"Hopefully the economy slowly starts to turn around and we can work with our standards and revamp that whole process," he said.

The sports world has been hit hard by the economy. The Arena Football League canceled its 2009 season, and there have been layoffs at the NFL, NBA and NASCAR. Now it's claiming the CBA, which has struggled to remain relevant in recent years after the NBA began relying on its own Development League as its primary minor league.

The CBA began in April 1946 -- 2½ months before the NBA -- as the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League. It was purchased by an investment group led by Isiah Thomas in 1999, but declared bankruptcy and ceased operations two years later after his combined ownership plan failed.

It was revived that fall after CBA and International Basketball League teams merged with the International Basketball Association and purchased the CBA's assets from bankruptcy court and restarted operations.

Having survived that, Truax hopes the CBA can overcome its current difficulties to return.

"It would be a shame for this league to go away," he said. "It's been through a lot."