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The Brooklyn Rage are owned by league commissioner and founder Rondall Reynoso.
Mascot: Ray the screaming ape
Arena: The Congo Arena in Brooklyn
The Rage were the first team in the WBA and owner Rondall Reynoso struggled between having the team be from Sacramento (his home town) or Brooklyn (his current residence). He decided on Brooklyn mostly because he felt a team based in New York would better be able to attract the big name free agents as well as provide additional revenue that wouldn't be available in a smaller market.
Brooklyn had the 12th pick in the inaugural draft which they used to select Joe Siebert. They used their second round pick to select Scooter Jacobs who was latter traded for John Davis. These two combined as an impressive front court in Season 1 ending the season as the best and second best rebounders in the league. In addition, Siebert was also the leagues best shot blocker. Siebert and Davis were the core of what would be a perennial defensive power house. In Season one the Rage finished with the third best defense allowing only 90.3 points per game on 40.5% shooting. Gene Allen and Ozzie Kramer are two other players who also had a strong defensive presence- not in their steal or blocks but by the pressure and headaches they gave their opponents. Despite the fact that Brooklyn played a slow style of basketball they were an efficient team that shot 47% from the floor.
Ozzie Kramer and John Davis represented Brooklyn at the All-star game in what turned out to be a classic humiliation of the East as they lost by 22 points. Probably, the biggest surprise about the Eastern All-star team was that Joe Siebert was not included. Many people still cannot understand how a player who led the league in rebounds and blocked shots doesn't get selected for the team. This insult was partially made-up for when Siebert was selected as defensive player of the year. Additionally, Rondall Reynoso was selected as executive of the year. In many ways this was well deserved considering that Reynoso traded for three of the players who would be in his starting line-up. Not to mention that four of Brooklyn's five starters were twenty years old or younger. Reynoso had a team with an exciting future without sacrificing current success.
In Season 1 the Rage won the Mid-Atlantic division (38-24), quite an accomplishment considering they were predicted to finish last, but unfortunately lost to Varese in the second round of the play-offs, 4-2, after having a bye in the first round. This was a huge blow to the Brooklyn franchise but in retrospect shouldn't have been a surprise. While, Brooklyn won their division they had actually finished with the same record as Varese. The Roosters also had Super Star Center Earl Baldwin on their team who gave them solid offense. Brooklyn on the other hand had one of the worse offenses in the league. Youngster Gene Allen and key sixth man Bill Meyer also played very poorly on the offensive end. The Rage only managed to score 83.2 points a game against Varese. The shinning spot for Brooklyn was the play of Pee-Wee Stoddard who averaged 14.5 points, 8.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds.
The off-season after Season 1 was both exciting and tragic. The tragic, was the loss of 19 year old point guard Bill Meyers who was considered to be the teams point guard of the future. He was extremely well liked on the team. Best friend Myron White called him "A burst of enthusiasm in the locker room." The excitement came when the Team was able to trade for the sixth pick in the draft which they used to select AJ Schulz. The combination of Schulz, Davis and Siebert provided the team with the possibility of having arguably the best front court in the league and most definitely the best rebounding front court. The move seemed even more brilliant when Pee-Wee Stoddard, who the Rage had traded to acquire the pick, was sent to jail for a year on a drug charge. Adding Schulz to the team gave Brooklyn's horrible offense a real threat and it completely changed the team from on of the worst offensive teams in the league to one of the best. Their scoring average raised an amazing 12 points per game. At the same time their defense improved to #2 in the league only allowing 88.4 points a game and only allowing the opponents to shoot 39.2 points a game compared to their 50.2.
After the draft Brooklyn however still had a major hole at the point guard spot. They had traded away Stoddard expecting Meyers to fill his spot but with Meyer's death they had no real talent at the point. The Rage however have a history of finding quality players who were overlooked in the draft. The first such player was point guard Woody Reynolds. Reynolds like Allen and Kramer has pure tenacity on the defensive end, but he also has good hands and was able to make some steals.
Season two was a magically one for the Rage. Going into the season everybody knew they would be good and they were. Just over half way through the season the Rage had the opportunity to send starting shooting guard Gene Allen to South Carolina in exchange for J.J. McCauley. The Rage jumped at the chance. They moved Ozzie Kramer into the starting shooting guard spot and allowed J.J. to be a force off the bench. It worked wonderfully. Brooklyn ended the season with the best record in the league, 67-13, and J.J. McCauley was voted 6th Man of the Year. Rookie sensation A.J. Schulz was also voted rookie of the year. The front court combination of Schulz, Davis and Siebert had indeed been impressive with all three averaging double figures in points and rebounds. Siebert also had what is by many considered his finest season with 17.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.
The season 2 play-offs were a totally different story for Brooklyn. They went into the play-offs as the favorite to win the Championship but ended up being knocked out of the first round by an expansion team three games to two. The Albacete Burning Hell became instant world wide stars as they bumped the team that was believed to be the best in the league. Brooklyn's impressive defense was shattered and their flowing offense stumped. AJ Schulz, who had been so impressive during the season, only shot 35% from the floor and John Davis, who Albacete let shoot at will, was sucked away from the basket for open shots but only made 39% of them.
Reynoso believes that the best way to win a championship is with consistency so in the off season he refused to dismantle his team like as GM's were doing. He kept the same core of starters but was able to add tremendous depth. Mike Byrd had been a spark plug off the bench for the Rage, but his age was starting to show so he decided not to return. Brooklyn went into the draft with the last pick of the first round and a middle pick in the second round. In the first round they selected Mike Stanley who they believed to have similar skills to Mike Byrd. This pick however turned out to be Reynoso's first major mistake as Brooklyn's GM. Stanley may be the biggest bust of the season three draft, especially considering they passed up players like Sheldon Maloney, Tyler Durden, Bruce Johnson, Bernie Cobb, Dave Williams and Shane Strom. Their second round pick did turn out very well as they finally selected Shane Strom. They were also able to pick up undrafted rookies Al Zarra, Brody Liang, and Art Sentipal.
The expectations were very high and Brooklyn did have an excellent season, 67-13. To the teams chagrin though they were over shadowed by the phenomenal success that Colorado was having ending the season 73-7. But, Brooklyn still had the third ranked offense (107.9 ppg) and the top ranked defense (86.3 ppg) so it was hard to complain. They ended the season with seven players averaging in double figures. One of which was a second round pick, Shane Strom, and two who were undrafted players, Woody Reynolds and Al Zarra. Strom had quickly shown that he was going to be a star in the WBA. In only 22 minutes he averaged 16.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. The Rage rotation now had three players coming off the bench who would start for most teams, Shane Strom, J.J. McCauley and Al Zarra. Mike Stanely only played 54 minutes all season.
The Brooklyn stat line was truly impressive that year. They shot 9.9% better than their opponents from the field, grabbed 16.1 more rebounds, made 9.3 more assists, blocked 1.3 more shots, grabbed 2.6 more steals and scored 21.6 more points. They were convinced that they were they best team in the league and that Colorado only managed the superior record because the West was a much weaker conference. The only catch was that they had lost to Colorado both times they played. But, the Rage were sure that in the finals they would prove their superiority.
The play-offs went exactly as planned. They swept Baltimore in the first round 3-0, crushed Berlin in the second round 4-1 and dismantled Washington in the Conference Finals 4-1. They did all the things in the post season that had given them success in the regular season and this year Schulz played like the star he was. Every thing was perfect except one thing. Colorado lost to Tokyo in the second round of the play-offs. Tokyo like the others fell easily four games to one but there has always remained the feeling that the Rage sure would have liked to beat Colorado instead. Still, 15-3 is one of the all-time great play-off runs and it is hard to complain about.
After winning the Championship Brooklyn had a very hard off-season. John Davis and J.J. McCauley both left for bigger contracts than Brooklyn could afford. There is no way to fill that kind of gap. Fortunately, AJ Schulz was able to move to the Power Forward position and Shane Strom took over the starting Small forward position. This gave Brody Liang who the Rage had picked up as an undrafted rookie the season before a chance to play more. J.J. McCauley was the harder hole to fill. They had no money and only the #16 pick in the draft. With that pick they selected 20 year old Justin Krueger who they felt would eventually be the best Point Guard to come out of the draft. Krueger did a decent job of playing but he was nowhere near the defensive threat that J.J. McCauley had been.
Despite the challenges Brooklyn again finished with the second best record in the league 64-16 only behind Colorado's 70-10. But, they were not the same team. Their offense was scoring five points less a game than they had the year before and they were allowing five points more a game. This still left them averaging 12.1 points more than their opponents. But, they did not have the confidence of the previous year. A fear of Colorado had begun to germinate.
Strom had stepped into the starting small forward role without a hitch. He led the team in scoring with 22.2 a game. The rest of the starting cast was the same and Brody Liang who was now the back-up small forward was not the scorer Strom had been but was very versatile as both a quality rebounder and passer.
Despite their misgivings Brooklyn still had the best record in the East and went into the play-offs with plenty of confidence. But, in the first round they fell to Rochester who was a great Cinderella story that season as they made it to the Conference Finals were they lost to the eventual Champions, Washington. The Brooklyn defense which was usually so impressive wasn't and the guard play for the Rage was even pathetic with the three guard rotation of Reynolds, Allen and Krueger shooting only 38%. Even the usually steady Joe Siebert shot only 40% in the series. Brooklyn despite winning the Championship the year before in an impressive 15-3 run had now been in the play-offs for all four years of the WBA but in three years they had not won a play-off series. This is not a good trend and the critics were really talking.
Once again the Rage had a challenging off-season. They lost starting point guard Woody Reynolds to free agency and decided to trade key reserve Brody Liang rather than loose him also the following season. There were also some major changes in the Brooklyn rotation. Reserve Al Zarra was moved into the starting power forward position, AJ Schulz was returned to the small forward spot, Shane Strom slipped to the shooting guard moving Gene Allen to be the reserve shooting guard and small forward. Justin Krueger also took the starting point guard spot. Only Joe Siebert stayed in the same position. Two key bench positions were also filled by Jarrod Edwards and Larry Saunders for whom the Rage had traded. This is a lot of change for a franchise that doesn't often embrace change.
Brooklyn finished the season with a 54-26 record which for most teams would have been a success. For the Rage however it was a bitter disappointment. Not only had they dropped ten games compared to the previous season they had also for the first time not won the Mid-Atlantic Division.
One of the key disappointments of the year was the play of Joe Siebert. His shooting percentage had slipped and for the first time ever he had finished with less than 10 rebounds a game and less than three blocks a game. Many felt an era was coming to an end.
The feeling of impending doom was increased when Brooklyn lost once again inn the first round to the Budapest Tigers 3-1. Siebert once again shot poorly in the play-offs and Justin Krueger really struggled in his first play-offs as a starter shooting only 25% and making only four assists a game. Unfortunately, his back-up Jarrod Edwards wasn't much better only shooting 26%.
Despite the struggles Brooklyn had endured over the last couple of seasons they were once again hit hard in the off-season when Al Zarra left during free agency. What made this even harder was that Brooklyn had no draft picks. They were fortunate that they were able to get eighteen year old Mario Bailey as an undrafted rookie. Signing Bailey, who turned out to be much better than many thought, allowed Brooklyn to move Schulz back to the power forward spot and Shane Strom back to his natural small forward position. For Strom this was key as he raised his scoring average to 26 points in Season 6 and was the fourth highest scorer in the league.
The Rage also acquired Russ Chase who they felt would do a better job backing up Krueger than Edwards had done. Chase was certainly a better passer as he averaged 5.3 assists per game coming off the bench.
There were a few nice surprises for Brooklyn during this season. Mario Bailey turned out to be a star in the making. As an eighteen year old he averaged 11.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals. Shane Strom also despite being a great scorer is also turning into a premier playmaker averaging 4.8 assists and he is also a very good rebounder pulling down 7.0 boards a game, all while committing only 0.9 turnovers a game. Joe Siebert also seemed to be returning to his old form by grabbing 11.6 rebounds and blocking 3.4 shots a game. But, as a whole the season was another disappointment. The team finished with a 48-32 record which at 0.600 was their worst winning percentage ever. Even more humiliating was their finishing with only the seventh seed in the play-offs.
The final humiliation was when Washington, who had once again won the Mid-Atlantic Division, swept them in the first round. It wasn't even close. Not only did Washington win three straight but they out scored Brooklyn by fifteen points a game. Schulz, Krueger and Bailey all shot less than 40% and Siebert once again struggled only shooting 44%.
Finally, Brooklyn had an off-season where they weren't trying to fill a hole. But, once again they had no picks and little money. The major move they did in the off-season was acquiring Lonnie Gerson in a trade that sent Russ Chase to Carolina. Brooklyn hadn't had a good steals man since J.J. McCauley in Season 3. Gerson did exactly that and in the same way. Gerson came off the bench behind Strom and Bailey and helped to shut down the opposing team. Another key signing for Brooklyn was Bernie Henderson who had been drafted by Texas in the second round but not signed.
Overall this was a good year for Brooklyn. They improved their record five games from the season before to 53-27. And, while they still did not retake the Mid-Atlantic Division they finished only two games behind Washington. Shane Strom continued to average over 23 points and 7 rebounds and for the first time reached 5 assists per game. Justin Krueger also seemed to be finding his place averaging 7.3 assists per game which was the most of any Brooklyn Point guard since Pee-Wee Stoddard averaged over 8 a game in Season 1. Mario Bailey also continued to show that he was a star in the making as he improved in every area of the game. Brooklyn also returned their defense to the days of old. They allowed only 96.1 points a game which was first in the league.
The real improvement however showed in the post-season. This was only the second time that the Rage had made it past their first series. They beat London 3-1 in the first round but fell 4-1 to the eventual Champion, Albacete, in the second round. As a whole the team played very well. The sad surprise was that Shane Strom was the weak link in the team. He only shot 41%. His scoring was down five points from during the season and his rebounding was also down. Gerson on the other hand was impressive with five steals in only 24 minutes a game.
In this off-season, Brooklyn returned to their old issue of having players they couldn't keep. Lonnie Gerson had impressed everyone with his play in Season 7 and as a result he got a large contract offer from Cancun. Brooklyn was then once a gain left with a defensive hole. To cover this hole Brooklyn dealt a future first round pick for Michael Kutak. Kutak was expected to fill in off the bench in the point guard and shooting guard positions. However, Kutak had a great off-season and won the starting shooting guard spot from Mario Bailey.
Brooklyn seemed to be a top team again. However, management didn't feel that they had what it took to win a championship so they pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sent long time Rage member, A.J. Schulz, to Montana for Tom Perkins. Perkins improved the teams rebounding scoring and shot blocking. This turned out to be a solid move. Brooklyn, regained the Mid-Atlantic Division title, raised their win total by six to 59-21 which tied them with Albacete for the second best record in the league.
Brooklyn, once again, had one of the top offenses in the league finishing with the third most points scored and they also had a top notch defense which was ranked number six. Strom also continued to show improvement averaging almost six assists this year and Perkins finished averaging about two points more than Schulz had previously.
Once again Brooklyn was to return to the Championship game. But, this year it was not by total domination. They had a big fight in the first round to squeeze past seventh seed Gabon 3-2. In many ways Brooklyn dominated Gabon but they also committed 39 more fouls which put them in serious foul trouble. Much of this was due to Perkins being more foul prone than Schulz but also while Perkins may be a better individual player than Schulz he is not the floor leader that Schulz is so the coaching had to adjust. In the Second round Brooklyn had an easier time as they handily beat Budapest four games to one. Birmingham, this seasons' Cinderella team, was a tougher match. Birmingham tied the series 2-2 before Brooklyn was able to put them away 4-2. In the Finals, Brooklyn met Cancun who was also trying for their second championship. Which ever team won would be the first team to repeat. Unfortunately, despite a strong start to the series that had it tied 2-2 Brooklyn fell short loosing 2-4.
The story never ends for Brooklyn. Once again they lost a key player to free agency. Michael Kutak who had a solid year starting for Brooklyn in season 8 chose to take a big contract in Omaha instead of returning to Brooklyn. Sadly, Kutak never got settled in Omaha and was traded to Birmingham mid-season where he performed well off the bench. In the end, Kutak ended up trading a starting role and a shot at a championship for a huge contract. This is a choice many former Brooklyn players seem to make.
In an attempt to replace Kutak and simultaneously look to the future Brooklyn signed 22 year old Omar Jefferson. Jefferson is not the player that Kutak is but he is young and has great potential. Also, Brooklyn was able to sign him to a long term contract at a reasonable price which is important for a team that is always loosing free agents. Fortunately for Brooklyn Mario Bailey ended up having an incredible off season and came to camp ready to retake his starting role for the Rage. His improvement was so marked that he ended up finishing second in the most improved balloting. Jefferson ended up only playing a minor role off the bench but Brooklyn still expected that he would be crucial in the future.
Once again Brooklyn had a solid season with all their starters performing admirably. Some observers consider Brooklyn as being slighted with only Shane Strom being invited to the All-Star game. Strom once again was constantly mentioned as an MVP candidate averaging 22.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals. Tom Perkins also played especially well averaging 19 points on nearly 57% shooting. Siebert once again averaged a double-double and Bailey, age 22, showed that he is a future super star averaging 15.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals. Long time point guard, Justin Krueger also had one of his best years leading the team with 8 assists and 2.4 steals.
In the end though, the regular season ended up being a bit of a disappointment. Only Shane Strom received a year end award and even that was only third team All-WBA. Most frustrating though was that the retooled Washington Monument regained the Mid-Atlantic title and Brooklyn ended up only being the third seed for the play-offs.
The play-offs started well with a sweep of Boston, a team that had caused Brooklyn problems the previous season. Expectations were high going into the second round against Budapest. The series was incredible with seven close games and four times the road team winning. But, in the end Budapest was the victor. Despite the bitter disappointment Brooklyn fans were finally able to really see why Mario Bailey excites Rage management so much. Young Bailey showed the heart of a champion as he averaged 19.8 points in the post-season on over 50% shooting. Still, loosing 3-4 in the second round was a disappointing end for the Rage.
Rage management felt a bit betrayed during this off-season. Justin Krueger is a player who management continually went to bat for and always promoted. Early in his career there were many who thought he was a bust even as a mid first round pick. But, now he is seen as one of the most productive and consistent point guards in the league. But, Krueger like so many previous Rage players had a chance to get a big contract and he went for it. What hurt management was that he chose to play for arch rival Washington. The Monuments now boast the services of both Krueger and AJ Schulz and used their considerable talents to once again win the Mid-Atlantic.
Everyone expected that as before Brooklyn would rebound from the loss of Krueger and they would once again be a top team. Even though it had been a long time since the Rage had started a point guard other than Krueger they had a great deal of talent in the position with long time back-up Bernie Henderson and young studs like Omar Jefferson and Daren Benson. But, Krueger was more valuable than most realized. He wasn't flashy but he was efficient. Jefferson the new starter was the exact opposite. He has a world of talent but is prone to mistakes. It became clear that the Rage were not the team they once were so management made the decision to trade Tom Perkins for 20 year old prodigy Jarius Miles. This created a young and exciting core with Jefferson, Bailey and Miles but it is also a group that makes a lot of mistakes. For the first time in Brooklyn history they would finish the season without a winning record going 39-41.
Shane Strom statistically had arguably his best year posting 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists & 1.8 steals. Mario Bailey made it clear that he is an elite shooting guard making the all-star team along with Strom and averaging 18.1 points on 56% shooting. What most impresses people about Bailey though is his all around play putting up 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals. Jefferson also had a solid season averaging 16 points and 7.4 assists. However, he was not very efficient shooting only 37% and committing 2.7 turnovers a game. Miles despite his ability to put up triple doubles also is young and makes mistakes with 3.3 turnovers a game. Despite the talent of this roster they committed too many fouls and too many turnovers. The future may be bright but the team was often in a haze this season.
While Brooklyn broke their steak of winning seasons at nine they were still able to keep their play-off appearances streak alive. However, it was an entirely uneventful appearance. In round one they were swept by the second seed Washington Monuments. The one point of excitement in this sad series was Mario Bailey's performance. He averaged 28 points in three straight losses.
There was a lot of pressure on this proud franchise coming off their worst season in franchise history. For the first time in a long time this team lost no major players in the off-season and with the same core returning the hope was that the maturation or Jefferson, Bailey and Miles would result in great improvement. But, there was a big surprise early in the season when the Rage were able to trade the unused but very talented Daren Benson to Andorra for Al Herbert who was also buried deep in the Highlander rotation. The trade turned out well with both teams getting pieces that they used heavily. Herbert while a natural center spent most of the season playing Power Forward which allowed Brooklyn fixture Joe Siebert to stay at Center and the young and talented but mistake prone Jarius Miles to come off the bench.
Shane Strom had another strong season averaging 26.1 points (on 52.9% shooting), 7.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.6 steals and only 1.0 turn overs. He once again proved to be arguably the best all around Small Forward in the league earning an All-star appearance and All-WBA honors. Mario Bailey also had a great improvement raising his scoring average to 22.8 points (on 57.1% shooting). He also continued to be a great all around player averaging 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.9 steals. Jefferson also had an improved year averaging 18.3 points and 8.0 assists while lowering his turnovers and raising his field goal percentage. All of this resulted in an improved team which won seven games more than the previous year.
For the 11th straight season Brooklyn made it to the play-offs and unlike last season they actually made some noise. Their first round match-up was against Andorra which game a nice twists to see them against each other after the big trade early in the year. Brooklyn was able to dominate the series winning 3-1. Unfortunately, they met Paris in the second round. Paris had the best record of the regular season and only lost one play-off game on their way to the WBA finals. At least that game was against Brooklyn who lost the series 4-1. Bailey for the second straight year was a great post-season performer averaging 25.8 points on 63% shooting.