Second Thought: Wednesday, March 27, 2003
Ghost Team

Is Fort Worth’s newest sports team just fantasy basketball?


We set out on a Saturday several weeks ago in search of the Texas Rim Rockers. If you haven’t heard yet, they’re Fort Worth’s latest minor league edition, or so we think.

Supposed to be a basketball team. Hmmm. Supposed to start playing in a few short weeks, but we couldn’t find any rosters and just one named player — Adam Harrington, a former Dallas Maverick — listed on the league’s site.

Supposed to be from here, even though they don’t have “Fort Worth” in their name. Gee, there are the Fort Worth Brahmas, the Fort Worth Cats, the Dallas Sidekicks, the Dallas Desperados, plenty of teams that appear to identify happily with their communities. In the Rockers’ own U.S. Basketball League there are the Brooklyn Kings and the Dodge City Legend. Was it something we ate?

We do know the Rockers can dance (more on that in a minute). Beyond that, this team seemed pretty elusive. Always ready for an adventure, we went a-huntin’.

The team is supposed to play a 15-game home schedule starting in April at the Fort Worth Convention Center, but we didn’t find them there. The Rockers’ web site listed their one and only physical address in Fort Worth as 6387-B Camp Bowie Blvd.

Hmm, there’s the 6000 block, there’s 6200, and huh, there’s the Stein Mart. We drove around the shopping center, easing past Eckerd’s, Feminine Fashions Resale, and the Radio Shack where we don’t have to give our phone number anymore, (tempting us to stop just to buy a battery).

There it was, 6387-B, the home of your Texas Rim Rockers: Mail Boxes Etc. I went in and asked the lady at the counter where I could find a representative of the team. She looked at me like I’d gnawed on her bubble wrap.

“I don’t really know,’’ she said. “We have lots of boxes here.’’ We looked between the two big bags of packing peanuts. We looked behind the sign that said “Authorized UPS retailer’’ and were tempted to wait around because it was a warm day and the UPS guy would be in shorts, for sure.

So, this was a sorta physical address, giving the Rim Rockers a sorta Fort Worth presence, even if they don’t want to own up to it in their name. So far, not very good — but on a par with the pre-season season the Rockers have been having since last fall.

In September, USBL p.r. guy Dennis Truax said his 28-year-old league would complete the deal creating the Rim Rockers within two weeks. Come October, still no sign of an announcement — but the front office had picked the Rim Rocker dancers, a troupe of lovely young ladies who look like high school girls because we can see their navels which their moms have not let them pierce, and they haven’t done their boobs yet. At least, that’s what it looks like on the web site. A friend of mine with a penchant for wrinkle-free flesh was going to see if he could enlarge the pictures to confirm the latter.

The deal to create the team, business-wise, finally got completed in December. Beyond that, the USBL’s and Rim Rockers’ web sites can’t seem to agree on much about this team, not even the logo. The latter site has plenty of buttons for things like “Management’’ and “Team Roster’’ but doesn’t actually let you into most of their little web hallways.

My friend (the one ogling the jailbait in Danskin) was still wondering about that team name. Yeah, we get the “rocking a basketball rim” connection, but there are no “rim rocks” in Fort Worth. Sounds more like a Hill Country kind of name. And after all, the web site listed team owner Mark McClure with an Austin phone number. We called.

McClure, a motivational speaker who says he paid $300,000 for the franchise, explained that he originally wanted the team in Austin but couldn’t get a place there for them to play.

Like most everything about his team, McClure himself is a little tough to nail down. Said his biz has some “roots” in Austin, but he lists his residence in Addison and said he also has a place in Atlanta. And by the way, on the USBL site, the only newspaper outlet listed for the Rim Rockers is the Dallas Morning News. (They are closer to Addison).

When asked about the team’s rather loose connection to Fort Worth and about his own “roots,” McClure said things like “I’m just focusing on the Rim Rockers right now.” Well, that makes it all clear as a used Biore strip.

By late March, we still couldn’t pin down a whole basketball team (though it’s already possible to pin up their dance team). The web site didn’t name any new players. Tryouts are still going on — the next one is March 29, in Lake Forest, Ill. Wannabe players have to pay $125 in advance or $150 at the door for the privilege. There is at least one coach, former Houston Rocket Robert Reid.

But, hey — progress: A new Rockers’ web site listed a new address, on West 7th Street. Our search continued. Thankfully, we brought bottled water.

What we finally found there could loosely be described as an office, as there was one phone and one guy. That would be Doug Anderson, who is vice president, announcer, and media guy.

Anderson confirmed that all the dancers were picked ages ago. “We have to appeal to the male market,’’ he said. So, Doug, do you have a team yet? “No, we don’t have any players yet,’’ he said. But you signed one, at least, right? “Well, kinda, kinda not.’’

Harrington, the one lonely alleged on-court Rocker, has just signed a 10-day contract with the Denver Nuggets. Oops.

So for now, Anderson is all by his lonesome, and McClure is somewhere in Austin or Addison or Atlanta, with the season coming quicker than the next 18-wheeler jack-knifing on I-20. “Yeah, it’s kinda scary, but we’ll get the coach and a secretary in here in April,” Anderson said. “Next week, we’ll know more. Our team will kinda matriculate overnight. College basketball will be ending, the CBA [another league] finishes this weekend. So a lot of sources will feed into one.’’

At least they’ve got dumb p.r. stunts. A couple of weeks ago McClure put out a press release about a one-on-one contest with Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban during a Mavericks’ halftime in June. Problem was, nobody had talked to Cuban, who proceeded to call the idea ridiculous and McClure “an idiot.”

There’s one more point, which I didn’t think of until I got up to pee in the middle of the night. Leaving “Fort Worth” off the name sure would make it easy to leave Fort Worth — to just up and move the alleged team to Addison or back down to Austin without even changing the stationery.

After all, there are Mail Boxes Etc. everywhere.

Jennifer Briggs is a veteran freelance journalist and author based in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.

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