The Idaho Stampede first thundered onto the scene in the Treasure Valley for the 1997-98 season and basketball in Idaho has never been better. The 2013-14 season will be the franchise’s 16th due to a “dark year” in the 2001-02 season while in the CBA, and the club is looking to build on its recent history as a title winner and consistent contender.
The Stampede began life backed by nine local businessmen with a passion for basketball and a mission to give something to the local community and basketball world.
“I’m kind of a self-proclaimed basketball junkie, loved basketball, have been a resident of Boise Valley all my life and have always wanted to do something for the valley,” Bill Ilett, the managing investor credited with bringing the franchise to the Treasure Valley in 1997, said in the early days of the franchise.
“I thought with the great basketball that we’ve got in the valley with the colleges and the high schools, maybe we could bring professional basketball (to the area).”
A priority for any professional sports franchise is to give its fans a winning team between the lines. Idaho, formerly in the Continental Basketball Association but now in the NBA Development League, has produced players who have shown the talent to make it in the NBA, and the club has reached the playoffs seven times, making the championship game in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) in 2003-04 and winning the D-League title in 2007-08.
In the process of trying to find a winning formula, the Stampede have churned out NBA-caliber players like Justin Holiday, Anthony Tolliver, Sundiata Gaines, Ira Newble, Damon Jones, Rafer Alston, Randy Livingston and Rusty LaRue. Recently, players like Mikki Moore, Luke Jackson, Coby Karl and Tolliver have had multiple call-ups to the NBA.
Stampeding Through the Community
From basketball camps to the KeyBank Read to Achieve Program, Idaho’s NBA Development League franchise has been active in helping both the athletic and academic pursuits of the Treasure Valley’s youth.
The Stampede has developed a number of programs, many revolving around area youth and the disadvantaged.
The Idaho Stampede developed an educational outreach titled “The Reading Stampede” that is now a part of the NBA Development League’s “Read To Achieve” initiative. The program motivates elementary students to develop a lifelong love of reading.
The Stampede Community Foundation, Inc. has also partnered with area banks, businesses, social organizations and other non-profits to make an impact in the Treasure Valley. To find out more information on these relationships, click here.
“It’s our responsibility to leverage our position as a sports franchise for the betterment of the Treasure Valley”, says team president Steve Brandes. “The Stampede has a lot of power to help others, and we can do it in a memorable and fun manner.”
Falling Off the Horse, Getting Back in the Saddle
After three years and 69 victories in the Idaho Center in Nampa, Idaho, the Stampede migrated to the Bank of America Centre in downtown Boise for the 2000-01 season.
The move seemed to agree with the team that season. With storm clouds brewing in the CBA, coach Rory White guided Idaho to a league-best 17-7 record for that season.
But with the Stampede rumbling to a breakout season, the world came crumbling down when the CBA – which had been purchased by a group led by former Detroit Pistons great Isiah Thomas a little more than a year earlier – ceased operations.
As the CBA reorganized for the 2001-02 season, the Stampede took time to reorganize and plan a return in 2002-03. John Brunelle was hired as General Manager and the franchise embarked on its return to the Idaho Center.
With White at the helm and a reorganized ownership group, the Stampede posted a 17-31 record in the 2002-03 season. The Stampede finished the year on a high note, winning four of its final five games, knocking off the eventual league champion Yakima Sun Kings in the season finale.
Stampede success continued under the direction of new head coach Larry Krystkowiak during the 2003-04 season, posting an overall record of 37 wins and 16 losses. Krystkowiak led the team to win its first playoff series in franchise history advancing them to the CBA championship game where the Stampede lost the championship game to Dakota 129-132.
At the end of the 2003-04 season coach Krystkowiak took a head coaching job at his alma-mater, the University of Montana. In his absence, the Stampede hired another NBA veteran, Joe Wolf, to become their fifth head coach. Coach Wolf posted a 48-48 record over his two seasons and produced the CBA Most Valuable Player (Sam Clancy ’04-05), CBA Defensive Player of the Year (Clancy ’04-05) and four CBA to NBA call-ups, including Josh Davis, who was called up on three separate occasions in 2005-06, which is tied for the most times by one player in one season in Stampede franchise history (Damon Jones, 1998-99).
A New Development
The 2006-07 season brought new excitement to the air as the Stampede left the CBA to join the NBA Development League. Idaho joined the NBA’s official minor league as the affiliate for the Utah Jazz and Seattle SuperSonics. The pool of players was deep and talented and NBA scouts and general managers were regular attendees of Stampede games. New head coach, and long-time Stampede employee, Bryan Gates guided Idaho to one of their better seasons in franchise history.
The Stampede posted a 33-17 record, earning a Western Division championship, and tying with Dakota for the league’s best record that season. Their success on the court also earned Coach Gates the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award, while Randy Livingston earned the D-League MVP award, averaging 12.3 points and 10.6 assists per game.
Players with NBA experience like Randy Livingston, Eddie Robinson, Peter Ramos and Luke Jackson all proudly played in the Treasure Valley that year. The affiliation system brought in even more talent, as C.J. Miles, from the Utah Jazz, and Mouhamed Sene, from the Seattle SuperSonics, joined the Stampede for stints during the season.
The 2007-08 season proved to the be the most successful in the history of the organization. Coach Gates led the team to a 36-14 record, a franchise record for wins and winning percentage before heading to the playoffs. First-team All-NBA D-League and captain point guard Randy Livingston and the rest of his teammates beat the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the semifinals before the Stampede would match up with the Austin Toros in a best-of-three-game series.
The final game in the career of Livingston would be a grand memory, as the Stampede beat the Toros in Game 3 by the score of 108-101 in front of the home crowd at Qwest Arena. The Stampede showed their tenacity, outrebounding the Toros 56-40 and overcoming a poor shooting night from a number of their key players. Mike Taylor, who averaged 14.5 points per game and only started six times throughout that season, made 7-of-10 three-pointers, scoring 27 points in just over 28 minutes of play to lead the way to the win.
The Gates era would finish out with a 31-19 record in 2008-09, before he took an assistant coaching job with the Sacramento Kings. The Stampede again made the playoffs, this time losing a first round matchup against the same Toros team they had beaten for the championship the year before. During the year, Randy Livingston, then the associate head coach, had his No. 32 retired on April 10, 2009, which was also proclaimed “Randy Livingston Day” by Boise Mayor David Bieter.
In 2009-10, the Stampede set offensive a number of franchise offensive records and even broke the NBA D-League’s record for points in a game with 165 points vs. Rio Grande Valley on March 31. Idaho set a number of team records over the course of the season, notching new marks in three-point field goals made (449), rebounds per game average (47.7) and blocked shots per game average (5.4, tied 2007-08).
Rip City teams up with the City of Threes
In the summer of 2012, the Portland Trail Blazers, the 1977 NBA Champions and one of the hallmark franchises of the league, became the hybrid single-affiliate of the Stampede. Many in the Treasure Valley were left to wonder what exactly that meant.
The Stampede are still locally owned by the same group of investors as in past seasons, and all business decisions are made through the ownership group and locally-employed front office; this includes President and General Manager Steve Brandes, who has been with the team over 10 years. The organization still operates based on ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and the support of the Treasure Valley community!
All basketball-related decisions went through the Trail Blazers basketball operations department, including their general managers, scouts and coaches. In March of 2014, both Idaho and Portland mutually agreed to end the affiliation.
We Are Utah Jazz
On June 10, 2014, the Stampede entered its 2nd hybrid single-affiliation in franchise history by teaming up with the Utah Jazz. In a similar relationship with the Trail Blazers, Utah will operate the basketball decisions along with current Stampede head coach, Dean Cooper. The team is still owned by the same local ownership group while Brandes still runs the business side of the organization.
The 2 organizations are very similar. Both share a rich history of on-court success. Both teams are extremely focused on their respective communities. Located less than 350 miles from each other, this affiliation just makes sense.
The NBA Dream Starts Here, in the Treasure Valley!