A Surge of Enthusiasm

Pro basketball is alive and well in Birmingham.

By Max Rykov;  Photo by Beau Gustafson

I first became aware of Kimberly Meadows Clark when she introduced the illustrious Dr. Cornel West at a Bernie Sanders campaign rally at Boutwell Auditorium on the coldest day in human history back in January 2016.

I kept seeing her name pop up in various circles throughout the city, and was mightily intrigued when she became the new owner of a professional basketball team in Birmingham.

We have a professional basketball team in Birmingham?!

Indeed we do!

In fact, the city has seen a number of professional basketball teams in various leagues, including the Magic City Court Kings of the World Basketball Association, owned by attorney Maurice Muhammad, back in 2005.

Clark used to work for Muhammad doing promotions for that team before her career as a case manager and outreach coordinator for organizations that serve our city’s homeless population.

It was a convergence of these two career paths that led Clark to seek out a tryout for a young homeless man for the basketball team she thought still existed in town.

When she contacted the American Basketball Association (ABA), she was informed that the Birmingham Blitz was essentially defunct. No team, no tryout.

But after a telephone conversation with ABA co-founder Joe Newman, Clark was offered a chance to take over ownership of the team, revive it, and provide second and first chances at success on and off the court for many more men in and around Birmingham. She jumped at it. The team’s official founding was March 6th, 2017.

This ABA is a re-launch of the original ABA, originally founded in 1967 and partially merged with the (NBA) in 1976. This new ABA has actually grown to include an international footprint with around 150 total teams in numerous divisions, and now has 14 women owning teams in the league.

When Clark took over the ABA franchise, the team was renamed the Magic City Surge, and word quickly spread about a new opportunity for professional basketball in Birmingham. It didn’t take long for the team’s roster to fill out with former players who didn’t quite make it in college or beyond.

I went to go see the Surge play against a team from Atlanta a few months ago and had an absolute blast. The game was high scoring, well above the 150-point mark for the winning Surge, and filled with fast-paced theatrics and the sort of dunks you see on highlight reels. I also got a chance to shoot half-court shots at half-time, with some pretty high stakes: if I didn’t make it in three attempts, I would have to move to Gadsden. I came close on all the shots, but didn’t quite make it. Then another young man in the crowd tried right after me and made the shot on his first attempt. Fortunately, his heroics and the ensuing celebration were enough to make everyone forget about deporting me.

That’s the sort of family-oriented fun and games that make Surge games so attractive to attend. It’s going to be a blast seeing the team grow, and add cheerleaders, and hone their skills, and inspire students in Birmingham City Schools. Clark says that the Surge give away tickets to our city’s schools, and since many of our students might not ever get the chance to travel to Atlanta to see the Hawks play, providing the opportunity to see positive role models entertaining and enthralling them with their skills and talent is invaluable.

The Surge currently play their home games at Parker High School, but are working towards establishing a true home at Bill Harris Arena at the Birmingham Crossplex. Despite the fact that the Crossplex is one of the most impressive athletics facilities in the nation, Clark informed me that a recent study determined that over 90 percent of Birmingham City School students had never visited Bill Harris Arena. With the energy, passion, and commitment to community service that she brings to the table, that statistic will change drastically. The Magic City Surge is primed to become a pillar of Birmingham’s community; for entertainment, for a future career path into the NBA (one of the team’s current players is playing with the Atlanta Hawks summer league), and for continuing to grow the spirit of local pride that has overcome Birmingham over the past several years.

One Response to “A Surge of Enthusiasm”

  1. Kimberly congratulation on your journey. You are doing great things in the ABA and Birmingham community. It is a pleasure having you as an ABA owner and looks forward to the opportunity to compete against the magic City Surge in the Southeast Region…Port City Tornados

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