Players face off in the TBL’s exhibition game at Grace College Thursday
Players face off in the TBL’s exhibition game at Grace College Thursday
The Basketball League (TBL) CEO Evelyn Magley holds the distinction as the first African American woman to ever own a male professional sports league in the United States. This CEO fluidly mentions the tagline “TBL – a different league” when she discusses what makes TBL so special.

The Basketball League’s (TBL) executive team began showcasing “TBL – A Different League” last night in the first of two consecutive exhibition games played at the Manahan Orthopedic Capital Center (MOCC) last night, and the Tiger Den at 7:00 p.m. tonight.

TBL has a strong attraction toward the Warsaw market for league expansion. However, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill professional basketball franchise.

Franchise investors are titled market owners, not team owners, with a focus on serving their market without holding back coaches and players whose development elevates them to the NBA’s G-League, overseas leagues world-wide, and even the NBA.

“We have over 190 players who have moved on to play overseas,” David Magley, TBL president said. “Twelve players moved to the G-League, and three this year are playing in the NBA. We don’t make our people buy out their contacts when they have an opportunity for growth”

If the redundant surname sounds redundant, it’s not a type. David, the husband of 40 years to Evelyn,

was the former commissioner of the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) . Evelyn suggested he use his experience to start a league in the United States. They met on a blind date while attending Kansas University.

David, who’s Hoosier roots were in South Bend, earned the honor of Indiana Mr. Basketball in 1978. The Academic All-American hoopster from Kansas University also played in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Evelyn Magley, a retired music teacher whose main instrument was the violin she played since fifth grade on through to the conservatory at the University of Missouri Kansas City.

The couple have a very clear expectation of what they expect in a prospective TBL expansion franchise. After all, it’s a different league.

“There is a vetting process,” Evelyn Magley noted. “Understand, we’re ‘hashtag a different league.’ Our mindset of what we’re doing is something that is God-given vision, and our communities need love. It’s about taking a simple game like basketball and using it to bring communities together and show love. That’s what we do with TBL. We’re a different league.”

The focus is on the development of the league’s core basketball talent’s off-court development as young men, not just one-dimensional athletes. The league teaches its players financial literacy, an increasing challenge among young people entering professions on- and off-court.

“We assume they’re going to be wonderful athletes,” David Magley said. “We knew these kids are gonna play hard, and they will be entertaining, but they gotta be more than entertainers.”

“I like what our players are doing,” Evelyn Magley added. “They’re ambassadors to the community where they’re playing. They do youth clinics. They work with Habitat for Humanity and other non-profit organizations.”

TBL – with a very successful experience of a franchise in Kokomo in place, has been working with Scott Wiley of the Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce in search of prospective local market owners to expand their franchise currently greater than forty teams throughout the Northeast, Midwest, Great Plains and Southwest United States.

“We have been here multiple times,” David Magley said. “Scott Wiley embraced this league and introduced us to multiple folks. A lot of people seem interested. The Warsaw market is the most successful new market in our view because of the success of Kokomo. Even better because it’s more rural.”

TBL action in Warsaw would affords family the opportunity to continue watching live basketball once local prep basketball ends in March.

“Warsaw is the perfect sized town,” David Magley remarked. “You’ve got long a distance to any division one (school), even further from an NBA city, and it’s a basketball town. We play when there is no other basketball going on in the state.”

Enter TBL – a different league.

The regular season begins the first weekend of March and begins its playoff journey in June. League action is livestreamed among 145 countries.

“Unless (a local team) is going on a high school state championship run we are going to be the only game in town. The timing is good for what we do. Our best run organization in the country is in Kokomo. They draw 2,000 fans a game. If you put 2,000 fans a game in here it’s a pretty cool place.”

Halftime activities last night in the MOCC included an intersquad exhibition of Lakeland Christian Academy elementary basketball players.

“You look at these young people who just came off the court,” Evelyn Magley said with spirit. “They had this opportunity to make memories for themselves and participate with their families. You can’t put a price tag on that.”

Evelyn’s ear for music helped TBL select a league anthem with a professionally crafted hype video by Emcee N.Y.C.E and producer Da Lomontz. More than 275 artists auditioned for the opportunity.

“Emcee N.Y.C.E. does not degrade women nor use profanity,” she noted. “RYZE Magazine from Atlanta sponsored the process.”

“I’m 62. My mother died when I was 18 and she was 57,” David Magley said. “My bother – my best friend – died when he was 57. I know how temporary life is, so I don’t want to waste a moment. I’m trying to lead an impactful life. When I go home to be with my Father in Heaven I want him to say, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’ and that is really what the vision is.”

The Magley’s, along with TBL commissioner Carlnel Wiley, look forward to bringing a different league to the Lake City.