The Fort Wayne Fury were a CBA team from 1991-2001. So far, we've covered three other CBA teams: the Gary Steelheads, Rapid City Thrillers, and Detroit Spirits. Including the Fury, out of the four, the team with the least information about their front/back office is the Fury.
There is no info besides the fact that they played at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, and the former media relations director was Rob Brown. In addition, there was a bizarre and unfortunate incident in 1996. The Fort Wayne Fury's mascot, 'Sabre,' fell from 50 feet onto the ground. Thankfully, Tim DeLeon, who played the mascot, only suffered from a broken back...
Since there's barely any information, we'll instead delve straight into the Fury's most notable players and seasons!
Notable Players: Bruce Bowen, Stephen Jackson, and Master P
Bruce Bowen entered the 1993 NBA Draft but was unfortunately undrafted. As a result, for the first four seasons of his professional basketball career, Bowen played for teams overseas (Le Havre, Evreux, and Besancon) and CBA teams, one of those teams being the Fort Wayne Fury.
Bowen joined the Fury in the 1995-96 CBA season but only played two games. He played pretty horribly, playing 16.5 minutes per game and averaging 2/3/1 while shooting 22.0% from the field. After those two games, he ended up joining the Rockford Lightning from 1995-97. His stint with the Lightning was a lot better. In the 1996-97 season, he averaged:
17.3 Points, 4.4 Rebounds, 2.8 Assists, 1.8 Steals, and 1.1 Blocks
45.6 FG%, 32.6 3P%, 76.5 FT%
After the 1996-97 season, Bowen would join the Boston Celtics and, from there on out, played twelve seasons in the NBA, becoming a 3x NBA Champion and one of the San Antonio Spurs' best defensive players (8x All-Defensive Team).
Similar to Bruce Bowen, Stephen Jackson also started his career overseas and in the CBA. Jackson entered the 1997 NBA Draft and was selected by the Phoenix Suns as the 42nd pick. Unfortunately, the Suns would waive Jackson, redirecting Jackson to the CBA's La Crosse Bobcats (1997-98).
Like Bowen, Jackson didn't play many games with the Bobcats. He only played six games, and within those games, like Jackson, he played horribly. He played 12.7 minutes per game and averaged three points and a steal while shooting 40.0% from the field.
After those six games, Jackson played Australia, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic before joining the Fort Wayne Fury in 1999. Jackon's time with the Fury was even shorter than with the Bobcats, only playing five games. He played 16.8 minutes per game and averaged 5/2/1 while shooting 38.7% from the field and 66.7% from the free-throw line.
Even though Jackson was not that good in the CBA, he showed that he was here to stay once he joined the NBA in the 2000-01 season. Jackson ended up teaming up with Bowen on the San Antonio Spurs in the 2002-03 NBA season, where they won a Championship! During the playoffs, Jackson averaged:
12.8 Points, 4.1 Rebounds, 2.7 Assists, 1.4 Steals, and 0.4 Blocks
41.4 FG%, 33.6 3P%, 80.3 FT%
The last notable player for the Fort Wayne Fury is Master P. Unlike Bowen and Jackson; Master P never played in the NBA. I don't think he needs an introduction, but for those who don't know, Master P (i.e., Percy Miller) is one of the most well-known rap/hip-hop artists. He won the AMA for Favorite Rap Artist in 1999 and the BET Hip-Hop Icon Award in 2020.
Master P played for the Fort Wayne Fury because he always wanted to be a basketball player. When he joined the Fury in the 1998-99 season, Master P earned only $1,000 per week as a backup guard. That's a good amount of money, but that year (1998), Master P earned $56.5 million from his other endeavors.
He could have probably bought the team if he wanted to, so it's clear as day that Master P genuinely wanted to make it into professional basketball. Unfortunately, his stint with the Fort Wayne Fury was short and lackluster. In eight games, he averaged:
1.9 Points, 1.6 Rebounds, 0.5 Assists, 0.4 Steals
46.7 FG%, 25.0 FT%
1993-94: Worst Regular-Season
The 1993-94 CBA season was the Fort Wayne Fury's worst regular-season record. They went 19-37 (32.8 W/L%) and somehow finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference. For the first 44 games, the Furys were coached by Hall of Famer and 12x All-Star Rick Barry. Within those 44 games, Barry led them to a 14-30 (31.8 W/L%) record.
For the last 12 games, the Fort Wayne Furys were coached by Barry's former teammate, Clifford Ray. Within those 12 games, Ray led them to a 5-7 (41.6 W/L%).
Neither Barry nor Ray had that much coaching experience before they coached the Furys, so it's not surprising that they did poorly. After their coaching the Furys, Barry would coach a team in the USBL while Ray was an assistant coach for numerous NBA teams from 1987-93, 1995-2013. Ray would win a Championship as an assistant coach with the 2008 Boston Celtics.
The 1993-94 Fort Wayne Fury's best player was 6'6" Forward Travis Williams. This season, he averaged:
18.3 Points, 8.4 Rebounds, 1.4 Assists, 1.3 Steals, and 0.4 Blocks
51.3 FG%, 60.7 FT%
Williams entered the 1991 NBA Draft but was not selected. Hence, he joined the Fort Wayne Fury in 1991. He played for the Fury from 1991-94 before playing for other CBA teams and overseas. In 1997, Williams finally got the chance to play in the NBA when he signed with the Charlotte Hornets. He played from 1997-99 but only played 47 games.
Williams' best game in the NBA was on January 13th, 1998, against the New Jersey Nets. The Hornets would end up losing, 68-81, but Williams put up:
11 Points, 7 Rebounds, 4 Steals, 1 Block
5/8 FG, 1/5 FT
This season, there must not have been many teams because the Fury were second in the Eastern Conference and in the playoffs with a negative record. That didn't really matter because they lost 0-1. The best player in this playoff game was Jeff Sanders. Sanders put up:
22 Points, 10 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal, and 4 Blocks
42.9 FG%, 100 FT%
Sanders was probably the only other person on the team that was as good as Williams. The only reason why I didn't put him as the "best player" is that Sanders only played 16 regular-season games for the Fury.
The Chicago Bulls selected Sanders in the 1989 NBA Draft as the 20th pick. He played two seasons for the Bulls before joining the Hawks for another two seasons. Throughout those four seasons, Sanders only played 55 games. Even though he played more games than Williams, Sanders never scored more than ten points in a single game.
1997-98: Best Regular Season
In the 1997-98 CBA season, the Fort Wayne Fury had their best regular-season record. They went 31-25 (55.4 W/L%) and finished first in the Eastern Conference. The Fury were coached by Keith Smart, who was a player for the Fury in the season prior. He wasn't their best player, only averaging 10/3/2 per 23 minutes in the 1996-97 season, but he definitely was their best coach.
Like Clifford Ray, after coaching the Fury, Smart became an assistant coach for various NBA teams. He was the assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, and New York Knicks. Smart ended up getting the opportunity to be the head coach for the Cavaliers (2002-03), Warriors (2010-11), and Kings (2011-13).
As a head coach, he never had a positive regular-season record. His best record as a head coach was with the 2010-11 Golden State Warriors. They went 36-46 (43.9 W/L%) and finished third in the Pacific Conference. Overall, Smart's head coaching record was 93-170 (35.4 W/L%).
The Fort Wayne Fury's best player this season was technically Carl Thomas. He averaged 18/3/3, but since he only played 24 games, we're going to give the label of 'best player' to Damon Bailey. This season, Bailey averaged:
15.3 Points, 3.2 Rebounds, 7.3 Assists, 0.9 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks
48.3 FG%, 31.0 3P%, 85.2 FT%
Unlike everyone we've mentioned so far, Bailey never played in the NBA. He was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the 1994 NBA Draft as the 44th pick but was cut after one season due to injury.
This season, Bailey was selected to the All-CBA First Team and was third in assists per game. He would be chosen to the All-CBA Second Team the following season and was the Player of the Week three times throughout his CBA career.
In the playoffs, the Fury had a record of 3-5. The best player was Damon Bailey during the playoffs, so I'll instead highlight the second-best player, Moochie Norris. Norris averaged:
15.9 Points, 7.3 Rebounds, 6.9 Assists, 2.3 Steals, and 0.3 Blocks
51.0 FG%, 40.0 3P%, 71.4 FT%
Similar to Bailey, Norris was also on an All-CBA Team, the Second Team. In the season before, he was a part of the All-Rookie Second Team. Later down the road, he would be selected to two All-CBA First Teams and was the CBA assist and steals leader for a season.
Thus far, Norris had the best NBA career. He was selected in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks as the 33rd pick. However, his NBA career would start in 2000 with the Houston Rockets. Norris played nine seasons in the NBA and averaged:
5.1 Points, 2.0 Rebounds, 2.8 Assists, 0.7 Steals
40.1 FG%, 28.6 3P%, 74.0 FT%
Norris only made the playoffs once (2004-05) within his nine-season NBA career and only played two playoff games. His career-high in points is 28 and 17 in assists.
1995-96: Best Playoff Run
In the 1995-96 CBA season, the Fort Wayne Fury had their best playoff run. Their regular-season record was 25-31 (44.6 W/L%), and they finished second in the Eastern Conference. The team was coached by Bruce Stewart for the first 20 games, going 6-14 (0.30 W/L%). Gerald Oliver coached the final 36 games. Within those 36 games, they went 19-17 (0.53 W/L%).
Before coaching the Fury, Stewart coached the Middle Tennesse Blue Raiders for seven seasons. Within those seven seasons, he had an overall record of 141-75 (65.3 W/L%). Stewart and the Blue Raiders ended up going to three NCAA Tournaments and were the Regular Season Champions three times!
As for Gerald Oliver, the only thing I found out about him was that he was the assistant coach for the San Diego Sails and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The team's best player this season was Evric Gray. He averaged:
20.4 Points, 7.1 Rebounds, 2.1 Assists, 0.8 Steals, and 1.0 Blocks
49.2 FG%, 38.4 3P%, 75.4 FT%
There is barely any information about Gray's professional basketball career. His Wikipedia page doesn't even mention that he played for the Fort Wayne Fury. Gray entered the 1993 NBA Draft but went undrafted.
He played for the New Jersey Nets for five games in the 1996-97 season. He only averaged three points and a rebound within those five games while shooting less than 27.5% from the field and three-point line. In his last game with the Nets, he received 18 minutes of play but shot 2/9 from the field.
In the playoffs, the Fury would go all the way to the Finals but would lose to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, 1-4. This was the only time in Fort Wayne Fury's history that they made the Finals. The best player for the Fury in the playoffs was Evric Gray. The next best was Jaren Jackson. The top five players for the Fury are all players we've mentioned here or in other articles, so I'll just link them here.