International Basketball League (1999–2001)

The International Basketball League (IBL) was a short-lived professional men's basketball league in the United States. The IBL was headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. The league started in 1999 and ended in 2001.

International Basketball League (IBL)
Inaugural season1999-2000
No. of teams13
Country United States
ContinentFIBA Americas (Americas)
St. Louis Swarm (2nd title)
Most titlesSt. Louis Swarm (2 titles)


The International Basketball League was founded in early 1999 and made plans to begin play in fall of that year. The first season did not quite meet expectations with attendance, but the league was still largely functional, with the Saint Louis Swarm winning the first championship. The second season was significantly rougher, with the league losing the Baltimore and San Diego franchises and merging with teams from the Continental Basketball Association after that league folded early in 2000. The Swarm won the championship of that league in the second season, and although the league had stated that it would return for a third season, this was not to be the case, and all the teams folded soon after the season ended, although the teams from the former CBA ultimately restarted the CBA the following year. Although the league had some innovations such as playing the international three-point line and trapezoid lane, and with the intention to offer professional basketball and more reasonable ticket prices, the cost structure of the league was simply too great for the revenue and attendance figures that it received.

The International Basketball League (IBL) was first proposed in 1996 as a single-structure organization similar to Major League Soccer. Because of this players were paid by the league and not the team's owners. The IBL also had classes they called "Player Education/Life Readiness Plan" in which IBL players were informed about scholarship opportunities and how to balance school and professional basketball. Plans for the league to begin play were tentatively set for November 1997 with 10 unidentified franchise in the United States.[1]

The league sought to have college players or high school players join their league instead of playing in the NCAA, where they could not receive compensation for their play. NCAA spokesperson Katherine Rice responded to the IBL by saying, "As an educational program, we prefer young people to get an education as a basis for their sports activities."[2]

A two-day meeting was held in St. Louis, Missouri on January 19, 1999 with over 50 IBL owners, executives and advisers in attendance. They were briefed on several things including potential television contracts, the IBL draft and the playoffs.[3]

On February 15, 1999 IBL president Thaxter Trafton announced the team would begin the season on November 26, 1999. Paul Martha served as the IBL vice president and general legal council.[3]


Team City Arena(s) Joined Folded
List of teams
Baltimore Bayrunners Baltimore, Maryland Baltimore Arena
Cincinnati Stuff Cincinnati, Ohio Firstar Center
Connecticut Pride Hartford, Connecticut Hartford Civic Center
Gary Steelheads Gary, Indiana Genesis Convention Center
Grand Rapids Hoops Grand Rapids, Michigan DeltaPlex Arena
Las Vegas Silver Bandits Paradise, Nevada Thomas and Mack Center
New Mexico Slam Albuquerque, New Mexico Tingley Coliseum
Richmond Rhythm Richmond, Virginia Siegel Center
Rockford Lightning Rockford, Illinois Rockford MetroCentre
Trenton Shooting Stars Trenton, New Jersey Sovereign Bank Arena
San Diego Stingrays San Diego, California San Diego Sports Arena
St. Louis Swarm St. Charles, Missouri Family Arena
Sioux Falls Skyforce Sioux Falls, South Dakota Sioux Falls Arena
The Gary Steelheads folded in 2008 after last playing in the International Basketball League, which had no association with the 1999 to 2001 IBL
The Grand Rapids Hoops joined the re-organized Continental Basketball Association (CBA) in 2001 and played until 2003
The Rockford Lightning joined the re-organized CBA in 2001 and played until 2006
§ The only franchise from the IBL that is still in existence are the Sioux Falls Skyforce, who now play in the NBA G League.
Locations of teams in the International Basketball League from 1999 to 2001

Postseason resultsEdit

2000 IBL PlayoffsEdit

  First Round     Conference Championship     IBL Championship
      1 St. Louis Swarm 2  
  2 New Mexico Slam 2     2 New Mexico Slam 0    
  3 Las Vegas Silver Bandits 1         1 St. Louis Swarm 3
      3 Richmond Rhythm 0
      1 Cincinnati Stuff 0    
  2 Trenton Shooting Stars 1     3 Richmond Rhythm 2  
  3 Richmond Rhythm 2  

2001 IBL PlayoffsEdit

Semifinals IBL Championship
1 St. Louis Swarm 2
2 Rockford Lightning 1
1 St. Louis Swarm 2
1 Grand Rapids Hoops 1
1 Grand Rapids Hoops 2
2 Trenton Shooting Stars 1

League awardsEdit

Most valuable playerEdit

Playoffs MVPEdit

Rookie of the yearEdit

  • 1999–00: Danny Johnson, St. Louis Swarm
  • 2000–01: Neil Edwards, Gary Steelheads

Coach of the yearEdit

All–IBL teamsEdit



  • First team:
    • Antonio Smith, Grand Rapids Hoops
    • Danny Johnson, St. Louis Swarm
    • Ray Tutt, Trenton Shooting Stars
    • Roderick Blakney, Cincinnati Stuff
    • Jeff Sanders, Rockford Lightning

Statistical leadersEdit

Year Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
1999–00[4] J. R. Henderson, 22.6 Rocky Walls, 12.3 Ryan Lorthridge, 7.8 Isaac Burton, 2.5 Soumaila Samake, 2.7
2000–01 Sam Mack, 23.1 Antonio Smith, 13.9 Ryan Lorthridge, 8.6 Roderick Blakney, 2.4 N/A


  1. ^ "International Basketball League to debut in 1997". PR Newswire. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. June 18, 1996.
  2. ^ Sipe, Jefrey R. (January 6, 1997). "A 'minor' league with conscience". Insight on the News (13.1). News World Communications. p. 42.
  3. ^ a b Powell, Tom (February 15, 1999). "International Basketball League To Debut In November With 12 Teams". Amusement Business (111.2). VNU. p. 12.
  4. ^ "IBL LEADERS THROUGH GAMES OF 05/02/00". Archived from the original on June 19, 2000. Retrieved July 26, 2020.

External linksEdit