Florida Basketball Association Announces Addition of Clermont Crocodiles for the 2021 Season

WEIS WORDS

John Weis


(Clermont, FL) – The Florida Basketball Association (FBA) has awarded an expansion franchise to the city of Clermont. The team has been named the Crocodiles (“Crocs”) and will begin league play in the upcoming 2021 season.

Team owners are Daniel, David and Max Luna, three brothers with extensive playing and coaching experience both in the United States and abroad. Twins Daniel and David, former professional players in Catalonia, Spain and current executives with Hilton, will handle the sales and marketing side of the team, with older brother Max, who coached at Life Pacific College in California, handling Head Coach and General Manager duties.

“Re-involving myself with the game of basketball has been my passion,” said Daniel Luna. “I have been researching the FBA since 2015. We are convinced Clermont will be a great place for a franchise because it’s relatively close to a number of other teams – but not too close.”

David Luna is also heavily involved in the fashion industry. He not only has his own clothing line but has also done online promotional work for Kanye West’s Yeezy brand, Forever 21 and Kenneth Cole, among others. Due to these connections, the Crocs’ have teamed with representatives of the Yeezy brand to design their inaugural uniform. “They will surely be unique and our logo will be fantastic for team merchandise items,” Daniel Luna said.

“We are excited to welcome the Clermont Crocs to the FBA,” said league Commissioner Greg Kite. “The Luna brothers’ experience, business acumen and enthusiasm for the game of basketball make this an expansion team to watch.”

The FBA now consists of eight teams, with the Crocs joining the Brevard Bobcats, Florida Flight, Gainesville Mighty Oaks, The Pride (Poinciana), St. Pete Tide, Tampa Gunners and Winter Park Storm.

The FBA is a Florida-based professional basketball league providing a development, branding and exposure platform for athletes, referees and other individuals seeking to further their professional basketball careers.

Mighty Oaks Ready to Stand Tall in Gainesville

WEIS WORDS

John Weis


This past March, an FBA expansion franchise was awarded to David Smith, who placed the team in Gainesville and named it the Mighty Oaks. Since his arrival in the area, Smith has set the wheels in motion for success, including hiring AJ Stallworth to fill the roles of Head Coach and General Manager. During a recent Zoom call with Smith and Stallworth, we discussed a number of topics pertaining to their new team, as well as their vision for the future.

John Weis: Tell me about your backgrounds and what led you to where you are today.

David Smith: This is my first entrance into the world of basketball but I have decades of experience in professional sports. I grew up around horses and was a harness racing trainer at the highest level for 44 years. In 2013, my horse finished second in the $1.5 million Hambletonian Stakes. I also have an extensive background in minor-league hockey. For two seasons, I was part-owner of a team based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina called the Twin City Cyclones that played in the Southern Professional Hockey League. After that I was a scout for the Federal Hockey League for nine years.

AJ Stallworth: I was very fortunate to play my college ball at Life University in Marietta, Georgia, where we won the NAIA Championship in 2000. From there I played professionally in just about every minor league imaginable in the United States. In between, I was fortunate enough to play for the Harlem Ambassadors and the Harlem Globetrotters, which gave me the opportunity to tour much of the United States and be part of an iconic brand. At the very end of my playing career I also had a short stint playing in the top professional league in Korea. Once I retired as a player, I became a team owner, coach and general manager for a number of minor-league teams. When David reached out to me, it was quickly apparent that he and I had a similar mindset, so saying yes to him was an easy decision.

John: The FBA prides itself on providing career advancement opportunities for their players. Both of you seem eager to do this for your team. Why do you believe this is so important?

AJ: When you’re someone like me who played as long as I did, you learn important things over the years. I am happy to pass along the wisdom of my experience to others. There are a lot of talented players who don’t realize that just because you don’t make it to the NBA … it doesn’t mean your career is over. That’s not true at all; you can still do very well playing professional basketball. If you are willing to do whatever it takes to make it, there are lots of opportunities out there – and the game can provide a very good living for you. I made a lot of sacrifices but there is no question it was worth it. Hopefully, I can inspire and motivate our players to do the same; and if they do, good things will happen for them.

David: After I retired last year, I realized I still wanted to be involved in sports in some way because of my competitive nature. As a hockey executive, my goal was always to get players to the next level. To this day, I still receive calls from teams asking me for my opinion on players. Now that I am an FBA team owner, I am working hard to establish new connections in basketball to help our guys do the exact same thing – advance their careers. But for the most part, I am going to stay out of AJ’s way and let him run the team as he sees fit. Remember the old Bill Parcells quote where he says if he’s going to do the cooking he should also be allowed to buy the groceries? That’s how I feel … and it’s why I am going to let AJ do his thing. He’s a proven winner.

John: The Mighty Oaks is a unique team nickname. How did you decide upon it?

David: Once we were awarded our team, I began researching Gainesville to see if there was something about the city we could tie into the nickname. So when I Googled “Gainesville”, I discovered it’s known as “a tree city of the world” by the United Nations and the Arbor Day Foundation. And what tree better exemplifies strength than the Mighty Oak? To me, it’s the perfect name.

John: Discuss your philosophy on how you coach … and what kind of player you recruit for the Mighty Oaks.

AJ: I have the ability to reach players of all ages and skill levels. I understand players are motivated by different things. Some people need a pat on the back, some just need some instruction and others need a kick in the butt. As long as you are making your players better, they’ll respect you for what you’re doing for them. Of course, we want to put a winner on the floor for our fans. Winning is big but it’s not everything. We will not settle for players who are not good role models in our community, no matter how talented they are. We are going to do things the right way and keep pushing each other to be better players and people. We are also going to place a special emphasis on being very kid-friendly.

John: I know you are fairly new to the FBA but you have played a couple exhibition games already (winning both) … and I’m sure you’ve done some homework on the other teams. What are your initial thoughts about the talent that can be found across the league?

AJ: The talent level is high in the FBA and every player on every team is very capable – and of course, there are a small handful of players that can be called stars. But basketball is a five-man sport, so I preach togetherness and teamwork on and off the court. This is especially important for us as a first-year team, because we don’t have the advantage of playing together for a long time like most of the other FBA squads.

John: Any predictions on the upcoming season?

David: I am originally from Missouri – the Show-Me state. I don’t believe in doing a lot of trash talking about what’s going to happen on the track, on the ice or in this case, on the basketball court … and that’s because I know for certain that anything can happen. I’ve witnessed big-time horses get beat by ones with long odds … and I’ve seen highly skilled teams lose to opponents with far less talent. We have had some initial success including winning the recent Hard2Guard cash tournament in Clearwater, but rather than making any kind of prediction, I would say it’s best to let our performance do the talking for us.

The FBA is a Florida-based professional basketball league providing a development, branding and exposure platform for athletes, referees and other individuals seeking to further their professional basketball careers.

Weis Words Named Official Content Provider of the FBA


(Orlando, FL) – The Florida Basketball Association (FBA) has selected Winter Park, FL-based Weis Words to be its official Content Provider.

Weis Words (www.weiswords.biz) is owned by John Weis, who previously served as Director of Media Relations for the Florida Flight, one of the league’s cornerstone franchises, from 2009-2016. He also spent six seasons as Broadcast Coordinator for the Orlando Magic Radio Network.

Weis Words will provide monthly content focusing on FBA players, coaches, ownership and key staff members; and participate in other league activities as needed.

“John is a gifted writer whose knowledge of the game and familiarity with our league made him the obvious choice,” said Greg Kite, FBA Commissioner. “We have exceptional players, coaches and support staff that make up our league and many of them have highly interesting stories that deserve to be told. John will be in charge of these efforts and he’ll do a fantastic job for us.”

“I am very excited to once again be part of the FBA family, and I thank (FBA Owner) Mark King and Commissioner Kite for this opportunity,” Weis said. “I look forward to bringing a new level of coverage and insider access to the league’s fans.”  

The FBA is a Florida-based professional basketball league providing a development, branding and exposure platform for athletes, referees and other individuals seeking to further their professional basketball careers.

www.thefba.com