Even though Bill Musselman's Patroons possessed the best regular season record in modern CBA history, 48-6, their high-powered scoring machine was being picked clean by the NBA. Center Scott Roth signed on with the Utah Jazz. Forward Michael Brooks joined the Denver Nuggets. And immediately after the Patroons beat the Savannah Spirits, 4 games to 1 in the playoffs' first round, Albany's Tony Campbell traded his gold and kelly green for gold and purple - he signed with the Lakers.
Their opponents in the CBA Championship were the Wyoming Wildcatters, a team who made the playoffs despite losing 20 of their last 23 games. Both teams battled through six exciting playoff games, and now it was down to a seventh no-tomorrow contest in the Armory. 5,000 Patroon supporters squeezed into the Armory, and a million hoop fans watched the game live on ESPN.
The 'Catters jumped out to an early lead, and midway through the second quarter were in front 33-19. Most of the scoring was from ex-Patroon Kenny Natt, who despite being traded to Wyoming midway through the season led all 'Catters in scoring.
That's when Lowes Moore came off the bench. Moore scored 13 points in the second quarter, and his presence forced Wyoming into seven costly turnovers, bringing the Pats to within two points, 49-47, with less than a minute remaining.
Wyoming's Boot Bond brought the ball toward the 'Catter basket. With time ticking away, Moore snatched the ball, crossed halfcourt, and with two seconds left, released a 30-foot three pointer that swished through the net. Patroons 50, 'Catters 49. End of the first half.
Neither team yielded to the other in the second half, and the game remained close into the fourth quarter. But little by little, the fans noticed something about their home team - the Albany Patroons were playing on high-octane adrenaline.
They saw Greg Grissom hit a foul-line basket as the shot clock reached 00. They saw 6' Scott Brooks dunk over 7'1" Ron Cavenall - not once, but twice. They saw Lowes Moore grab any ball that happened into his path.
But the hero of the night was Tod Murphy. What made Murphy's 21 points so remarkable was that he played the last four games of the championship series with an injury; his Achilles tendon had been banged in game 3 of the series. Murphy even gave up a 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors so he could help the Patroons win the championship.
With less than four minutes left, Wyoming was only two points behind, 90-88. That's when Murphy stole the ball, jamming it through the hoop for a 94-90 Patroons lead.
Then things got tough for the Wildcatters. Kenny Natt picked up his sixth personal foul. Barry Mitchell injured his back and had to leave the game. And the Patroons pulled away for good.
The buzzer sounded. Albany 105, Wyoming 96. And the Albany Patroons picked up their second championship in their six-year history. "This [championship] was more rewarding," remarked Derrick Rowland to the Gazette. "The first one was sweet, but you know how to celebrate a second one." And for all his efforts, Tod Murphy captured the Most Valuable Player award.
Bill Musselman felt higher than a kite. That may have been because Derrick Rowland, Lowes Moore and two other Pats lifted Musselman up on their shoulders and carried him to the locker room, a red carpet chariot ride for the victorious Patroons. Five thousand in attendance cheered their champions, a remarkable feat for a building with only enough room for 1,700 patrons.
In time, Bill Musselman became the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his tenure in in Minnesota, Musselman's roster looked like a clipping from an old yearbook - Tod Murphy, Scott Brooks, Tony Campbell and Sidney Lowe were "Patroonberwolves" during Musselman's tenure.
And in 1993, former Patroon guard Sidney Lowe followed in Musselman's footsteps and became coach of the Timberwolves in his own right. Lowe, along with Musselman and Phil Jackson, are the only NBA coaches who own Patroon championship rings.
Mitchell 4-6 7-10 15; Graham 6-11 2-8 14; Cavenall 10-20 2-2 22; Bond 4-9 1-2 9; Natt 6-19 9-10 24; Phelps 0-0 0-0 0; Wynder 1-2 0-0 2; Spencer 2-3 0-0 4; Johnson 2-6 1-2 6. Totals 35-76 22-34 96.
Murphy 5-10 11-13 21; Grissom 6-10 2-4 14; Fernsten 1-2 1-2 3; Richardson 4-10 2-2 10; Rowland 9-24 2-2 20; Lowe 1-1 0-2 2; Gettys 0-0 0-0 0; Brooks 5-7 2-3 12; Moore 9-17 4-5 23; Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-82 24-33 105.
WYOMING 27-22-27-20 96 ALBANY 17-33-32-23 105Three-point goals - Natt 3, Johnson, Moore. Rebounds: Wyoming 38 (Cavenall 10), Albany 51 (Murphy 14, Grissom 13). Assists: Wyoming 21 (Mitchell 6); Albany 18 (Lowe 6). Total fouls: Wyoming 26, Albany 27. Technical fouls: Cavenall (unsportsmanlike conduct), Moore (unsportsmanlike conduct). A-5,293.
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