While most of us here in Beer City, USA are familiar with the Grand Rapids Drive, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons, not many folks know about the early years of the franchise.
Born in 2006, the franchise was known as the Anaheim Arsenal. Five years after the NBDL (National Basketball Development League) began, the league was rebranded as the NBADL and expanded from its origins in the southeastern states of the US all the way west to California. The Arsenal joined the Bakersfield Jam, along with former CBA (Continental Basketball Association) teams Dakota Wizards, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Idaho Stampede, and Colorado 14ers as the expansion teams for the 2006-07 D-League season.
Based in Anaheim, CA, the team played their homes games at the Anaheim Convention Center, the same place the Los Angeles Clippers played neutral site games in the 1990s. Located across the street from Disneyland Resort, the convention center was the home of the Anaheim Amigos during the first season of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1967-68.
While in Anaheim, the Arsenal compiled a record of 61-89 overall, going 23-27 in each of the team’s first two seasons and 13-35 in 2008-09, missing the playoffs in all three seasons.
Notable names from Michigan to play with the Arsenal during their time in the D-League are Geno Carlisle (Northwestern/Ottawa Hills HS), Derrick Dial (Eastern Michigan), Marcus Taylor (Michigan State) and Kirk Walters (Arizona/GR South Christian HS).
Sam Vincent, a Lansing, MI native who was named Michigan’s first “Mr. Basketball” in 1981, was the head coach of the Arsenal in 2006-07.
Marcin Gortat, current starting center of the Washington Wizards, played with the team in 2007-08.
On March 31, 2009, the Arsenal announced that they would relocate to Massachusetts and play as the Springfield Armor.