The Most Insignificant Franchise in Buffalo History: Buffalo Sharks/Silverbacks/Rapids

By Jon

Today marks the second of a series of posts in an effort to find The Most Insignificant Franchise in Buffalo History. Any current or former sporting franchises from the WNY area will be considered. A poll will be posted by the end of the week, and the franchise receiving the most votes will be deemed Most Insignificant.

Today’s nominee comes from the king of insignificance himself, Brian S.: The Buffalo Sharks (formerly known as the Silverbacks and Rapids.)

Buffalo Sharks
Buffalo Silverbacks
Buffalo Rapids

What? A professional basketball franchise competing in the new American Basketball Association, a minor league not to be confused with the ABA that merged into the NBA.

When? The team was known as the Rapids for the 2005-06 season and the Silverbacks for 2006-07. After going on hiatus for a season, the team will return as the Sharks in November.

Where? The Rapids opened their inaugural season playing at the Flickinger Center, but the team was booted for failure to pay rent after only two games. The team spent the rest of the season playing in various high school gyms around the area (seriously) before finishing out at the Buff State Sports Arena. The Silverbacks played their games at Buff State, and the Sharks are slated to play at the Koessler Center.

Why? There wasn’t a pro basketball team in Western New York since the days of the Braves, so the original ownership was banking on the area being excited for a product that hadn’t been around for decades.

The Story: The Rapids came to town as an expansion franchise in 2005, originally owned by Gary Nice. After failing to pay rent at the Flickinger Center and bouncing a few checks to his players, the ABA kicked Nice to the curb. The team was then purchased by Todd Wier and Dan Robbie. Robbie’s name might ring a bell, as he is the son of Joe Robbie, the famed former owner of the Miami Dolphins (the junior Robbie owned part of the team at one point, as well.) After the tumoltuos inaugural season, Wier and Robbie changed the team’s name to the Silverbacks, and revealed this logo:

The Silverback doing his best Uncle Sam.

Buffalo’s African-American community didn’t take so kindly to this logo, and with the help of a few buzz-generating articles in the Buffalo News, this allegedly racist logo was swapped for this:
An all-around terrible logo, completely ignoring the fact that a tiger has nothing to do with a silverback gorilla. I digress.

Wier and Robbie, disgusted with the ABA’s suits, sold the franchise to Vincent Lesh just five weeks before the start of the 2007-08 regular season, electing to start an expansion team with the Premier Basketball League (the Buffalo Dragons.) Lesh decided to put the team on hiatus for a year rather than rush into things, so he informed the fans and press the way the owner of any respectable pro franchise would: Through the team’s MySpace page (which no longer exists.) Lesh rebranded the team as the Sharks, and it remains to be seen if he can generate any sort of interest in the team for the upcoming season.

On the court, the roster has been sprinkled with a few names fans might recognize (Modie Cox, Tim Winn, Turner Battle (for a few games), and Kueth Duaney), but have largely been filled with no-namers. The team qualified for the playoffs both years, with the Silverbacks losing in the 2007 semifinals.

Overall Record:

Regular Season: 54 Games Played; 27 Wins; 27 Losses; .500 Winning Percentage

Playoffs: 4 Games Played; 2 Wins; 2 Losses; .500 Winning Percentage

Why the Sharks/Silverbacks/Rapids should be Most Insignificant: The team literally spent a year bouncing around from high school gym to high school gym, looking for anyone that would let them play for a game. How can a nomad team be significant?

Why the Sharks/Silverbacks/Rapids should not be Most Insignificant: While virtually no one can tell you a damn thing about anything that has happened on the court, many are somewhat familiar with the cacophony of off-the-court incidents. Also, in the interest of fairness, Lesh hasn’t had a whole lot of time to right the ship, so some may argue that we need to give him a few seasons before deeming his franchise insignificant.

Any diehard Sharks fans out there? Let us know in the comments.


  1. GCFB

    Next owner of the team

    Jackie Moon

  2. John M.

    The owner/coach/whatever of this team was on the WGR morning show this morning. He said he’s going to be scouting pickup games around Buffalo. You too could be a Buffalo Shark!

  3. Ryan

    Thanks for the tip, John. Any readers have mad hops?

  4. Jonathan Grant Keller

    It’s good to see Buffalo’s African-American community has their priorities in order. If only the Senecas could do the same.

  5. MinorLeagueMan

    This ABA is a complete joke. The ABA last year played less than 40% of its games, and had over 20 teams fold – they started with almost 40. All of the good, professionally run ABA teams have all left, and they have left for the Premier Basketball League, the league which the Buffalo Dragons are in. They played all of their games last year, 10k in attendence for the championship game, and recently signed a Nat'l TV Deal. PBL>ABA

    But we have yet to see a team that can last more than a year, lets see what happens with 2 teams now in 2 different league. I got my money on the Dragons, simply because they are in a 10x better league with no joker owners or game cancellations. The Sharks however, do have good people within the franchise and have good intentions but the league will set them back, especially if they have no one to play a few weeks into the season!


  6. MinorLeagueMan

    I think I may be 1 of less than 10 people that actually followed minor league hoops starting with the Rapids until now LOL! One of these new teams better work so I am not alone!

    I wish more people went to Rapids/Silverback games, they were very entertaining, tickets were cheap, and we had some good talent. Its a shame of what happened with the Rapids and their first month of existance that turned everybody away from minor league hoops, but thats what happens when you can buy an ABA team for 10k. This is why the ABA has had almost 200 failed franchises in 7 years.

    Maybe that can change this upcomming season, and people will give it another chance, so I guess we will have to wait and see…