"To exercise a leadership role in the promotion and development of the sport of basketball in Bermuda through programs and services for all levels of athletes, participants, leaders, and volunteers."
The Bermuda Basketball Association (BBA), which was founded in 1988, is the Governing Body for Basketball in Bermuda as appointed by the Ministry of Youth & Sport. It is a Volunteer and Charitable Organisation (# 450) and its primary objective is to promote, supervise and govern the playing of amateur basketball in Bermuda as stipulated by the International Amateur Basketball Federation (FIBA) The BBA previously existed as the Island Basketball Association (IBL), but there is no record of how long this was in place before the present change. In addition, to its local obligations, the BBA has the responsibility of preparing the male and female national teams, to represent the country at any regional or international tournaments. To be eligible to represent Bermuda in FIBA sanctioned events, players must be Bermudian nationals or the product of Bermudian parentage.
Before the BBA was formed, Bermuda teams would register to play in leagues formed by the U.S. Naval Base (St. George's) and the U.S. Naval Annex (Southampton) Bermuda teams (specifically women's teams) would prove to be very competitive in these leagues. There was a brief point where Bermuda teams were prevented from participating in these leagues, which prompted a group of Bermudians to form their own league.
The late 80s was dominated by teams such as Dream Team, Runnin' Rebels, Metro and Tuckers Tees, each team having it's own distinctive style of play. Dream Team and Rebels traditionally were an up-tempo team using their size to control the boards and push the ball up the court for easy baskets. Metro and Tucker Tees were more half-court oriented, but could push the pace if needed. A women's league soon followed which would see Meyer's Flyers be the dominant team well into the 90s. For a brief period in the 90s, Air Netts would go head to head with the Flyers for Division supremacy. The majority of these players had played netball and wanted an additional challenge. A Men's Adult Recreation Division was created during this period to facilitate players who felt they could not compete in the Premier Division (due to age or experience) This league proved to be just as competitive due to the combination of wily veterans and energetic youth. For 2 years straight, the BBA even held a Youth Division in the Summer Leagues
At its peak, the BBA boasted 35 organised teams in 1998. 9 Premier Division teams, 15 Adult Recreation teams, 7 Women's Division teams and 4 Youth Division Teams. The BBA normally runs 2 Domestic Leagues each year. One during the Fall/Winter months and one in the Spring/Summer months.
Unfortunately, the BBA has never really had a gymnasium it could call home and has used many gyms over the years. Some may remember the BAA gym with its' fold out fibreglass backboards and old wooden floors. Others remember the 'no dunking' rules which were in place as late as 1996 due to the fact that most gyms did not have breakaway rims fitted to its backboards.
The BBA has had it's share of American influence on the game here. The majority have come to Bermuda on work contracts while others have married Bermudians and took up residence here. One of the more influential ex-pats to play in the BBA leagues was Kit Mueller who was a standout at Princeton University. In the 1989 NCAA Tournament, they put a scare into Georgetown University, who was then led by the imposing Alonzo Mourning. Kit was a hedge fund trader for Trout Trading Management and played for Trout Twisters in the late 90's. This team actually was composed of other employees of Trout Trading, some, Division 1 players. This forced Bermuda teams to step up their game or run the risk of getting blown out of games. While Trout Twisters won their share of BBA leagues, they would go on to lose to such teams as Top Guns, Pest Control Hornets, Bratt Pack and Source Hotshots. Some believe that this may have been the 'Golden Age' of basketball in Bermuda. During that period, players were practicing and training on a regular basis. Players didn't wait until the start of the season to get in shape.
The New Millenium saw many changes in the BBA. Unsuccessful attempts were made to secure a permanent venue for league play, but the BBA was now able to play in several gyms it did not have previous access to for some time. Today's game is now played in the winter and summer under different formats. Kenny Simmons approached the BBA as early as 1996 with an idea of expanding basketball in Bermuda. He wanted to have each team named after parishes and even furnished the BBA with logos for each team. At the time, the BBA didn't think teams would like the idea of losing their name identity, especially those with sponsors. This did not stop Kenny from realising his dream. In 2002, Kenny Simmons started up his own church league which came about through his involvement with local churches. Eventually the popularity of the league brought over many BBA members. The popularity caused Kenny to be voted in as a BBA Executive and the Premier Basketball League (PBL) would now be run under the umbrella of the BBA. Teams would no longer have to purchase uniforms which were provided by Kenny. Most games were played on Saturdays, and the BBA probably had its largest fan base since the early 90s. In 2010, BBA Executive John Lee created the Elite City League (ECL) Initiatives were put in to enable players to be able to socialize after games. Since that time, the League has become enhanced through the introduction of a draft by past Executive member Cecil Hendrickson. We will see what lies on the horizon for Bermuda Basketball.
In 2002, the BBA was approached by the Bermuda Island Games Association (BIGA) to be one of the sports to represent Bermuda in the 2003 Natwest Island Games. This would be the first time that the BBA would be able to send a Men's National Team. With the shortlist of coaches available, the BBA activiley pursued Roderick Spencer who vacated his role in 2016 after 14 years as Head Coach of the Senior Men's National Team Program. At that time, tryouts were by invitation only and despite a few players pulling out due to work committments, Bermuda was still able to send a formidable team led by Tri-Captains Greg Todd, Dale Jackson and Garth Thomson. In its first Island Games tournament, Bermuda would defeat Saaremaa to capture the bronze medal. They finally captured the gold in 2009, defeating Menorca, their nemesis from the previous Games. This was due most in part to the addition of Sullivan Phillips who was playing professionally in Europe. His all around game as a 6-6 point guard was key as Bermuda won 3 straight Island Games gold medals, the last being held in Bermuda (2013) Of note, since 2003, the Senior Men's team has medalled in every Island Games Tournament it has participated in.
The success of the Men's team in 2003 prompted the BBA to entertain sending a Women's team to the following Games. Unfortunately, the 2005 Island Games (Shetland) did not have basketball facilities available, but a 4 team Islands Tournament was held in Gibraltar. The Men's team captured a gold medal while the women captured bronze under Head Coach Allan Walker Jr. Lack of committment and interest have hindered the development of our women's team to International basketball. The women have only participated in 2 Island Games. They were fortunate to win a bronze medal in 2007, led by Head Coach Richard North. Unfortunately, they were defeated by Guernsey in the bronze medal game in 2011. To date, the Men's team has medalled in every Island Games event it has participated in.
While the BBA has been an active member of the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) since 2005, it did not make its debut into competition until 2009. The BBA had already committed its Men's Team to participate in the 2009 Island Games and the hope was to attend both tournaments. Unfortunately, by the time the CBC had confirmed a date, funds had already started to go towards the Island Games. It just so happened that the dates of both tournaments were identical. The BBA was forced to create 2 teams as registration costs had been paid for both tournaments. There was much unnecessary debate over the name of each team, and which team was the better team. This led to some heated discussions, but despite it all, both teams were able to compete. Bermuda would go on to compete in 2011 and 2015 and 2018. The BBA has yet to send a Senior women's team or youth teams to the CBC Championship. However, Jenaya Wade-Fray who represented Bermuda in the 2007 Natwest Island Games played for Great Britain's Women's Basketball team in the 2012 Summer Olympics which were held in London.