Titans seek to conquer
Liberty alumnus leads semi-pro team
During one of his business classes as a Liberty University student, David Polley was asked to draw what he wanted his ideal job to look like. He proceeded to draw a basketball arena with fans, a parking lot and a team. He knew what his dream was, and he did whatever he could to accomplish it.
In 2011, the Lynchburg Legends, an American Basketball Association (ABA) team played its first game. Founder, CEO and Liberty graduate Polley watched as his dream of creating a semi-professional basketball team had finally come to fruition after two years of rigorous planning and preparation.
“I had to start it back in 2009,” Polley said. “That’s when I first started laying the groundwork for the Lynchburg Legends. I had to do a mini-feasibility study in the city of Lynchburg to make sure it could support a semi-professional basketball team, and that was just getting to know the demographics — picking a target audience, finding a venue, locating the sponsors … from 2009 to the fall 2011, which was all spent doing the groundwork for Legends.”
The Liberty alumnus said he had to “wear many hats” while creating his team. He did not have the money to hire a staff to aid in the project and had to do most of the heavy lifting himself, such as creating a website and marketing plans. Funding soon came through sponsors and other companies willing to support Polley and his project, and 2011 became the inaugural season for the Legends.
During the Legends three-year tenure in the ABA, Polley’s team has produced six players that have received contracts from professional teams in different countries. Legends games were also broadcasted live on the radio and television through local Comcast providers. Polley had created something that was functioning, and it caught the attention of Tom McGinn, commissioner of the Premier Basketball League (PBL).
“I was originally contacted by the commissioner of the PBL in the earlier part of 2013 while I was still in my ABA season,” Polley said. “They just reached out to me and said they liked what was going on with the organization, particularly my game-day operations, (because) we had live broadcast of radio, and we had the TV broadcast. … We had the commentators.
We had live entertainment. So they liked the way we carried ourselves as an organization, and that on the court, we were competitive. … We had structure.”
The PBL has existed for around six years as the second-highest semi-professional basketball minor league in the United States. According to Polley, the PBL originated in the Midwest, which is where the majority of the teams were once located. This made him initially reluctant to join the league, as traveling would be very difficult to fund.
However, the PBL expanded and added an eastern division, which allowed the Legends to join without sustaining a major financial setback. But joining came with one minor condition.
Polley would have to change the name of the team.
“When we switched leagues, there was already a team out of Lafayette,” Polley said. “They were the Lafayette Legends. I really wanted to keep the name. You know, I already grew attached to it, but the team in Lafayette already had the name, and so it came with the territory.”
In December 2013, the Lynchburg Legends left the ABA and became the Lynchburg Titans. According to Polley, going to the PBL allows his team to play in better venues, provides the team with better publicity and gives his team better competition. According to Polley, the league has plenty of recognition around the world for the talent it produces. He also said the league has athletes who have once played for NBA teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Starting back in 2011, you could see a level of commitment that the guys had to the game,” Polley said. “Forty-eight minutes in a professional basketball game is a long time, and to be able to play at a high level for that long, you have to train harder. You have to be a lot more dedicated. You have to be able to train your body physically. So the guys knew after our first game that, ‘Hey this is something I’m going to have to take seriously.’ So I can see the commitment level.”
The Titans first game as a PBL team was a 35-point loss to the Pee Dee Vipers from South Carolina. The Titans currently have a 1-10 record in their inaugural season, but neither Polley nor his team are discouraged.
Following the Titans two remaining games of the season, they will begin preparations for their second season. They will adjourn with the current league-leading scorer, Jamal Francis, and an owner who has a love for basketball and his team. Polley said that after his first season, he is much more prepared and ready to go into the offseason and do all that is necessary to bring success to his team.
“Every day that I wake up, every game that we have, every time I talk to a player, or when I’m recruiting, or when I’m here doing an interview, it’s kind of surreal,” Polley said.