FORT WAYNE — Mad Ants president Jeff Potter, who was selected D-League Team Executive of the Year on Thursday, likes the model for success Fort Wayne had last season when it won the league title.
And he’s in no hurry to change it, even as other teams alter the models in which they are run or owned.
“We’re the only team in the league that remains independent for a variety of reasons, and I’m just not ready to dive in and change it,” he said.
The Mad Ants haven’t been bought by or given up any part of their basketball operations to an NBA franchise.
“For us to give that up, it would have to be the perfect situation,” he said.
Iowa and Bakersfield were the only other independent D-League teams last year, but both franchises have since been taken over – Iowa by the Memphis Grizzlies and Bakersfield by the Phoenix Suns.
Shifts in the operations of other teams have cost the Mad Ants affiliations with Memphis, the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. “I expected to be in this position (losing affiliations),” said Potter, adding that he believes he’ll keep the relationships with Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte and add others before the upcoming season.
“We’ll be well represented by NBA players.”
The Mad Ants went 34-16 in the regular season, garnering their first division title and second playoff berth. They went 6-0 in the playoffs, sweeping Reno, Sioux Falls and Santa Cruz.
A member of the board of directors for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Potter’s impact stretched beyond the court.
He forged a partnership with Lutheran Health Network, the first presenting sponsorship in the team’s history, and enhanced the team’s social responsibility initiatives, which included more than 160 community service projects.
“It’s a team award. It’s a great award, but it’s not just basketball, it’s also the business side,” Potter said. “I’m lucky that I have such great people working with me.”
Notes: Mad Ants coach Conner Henry was chosen to coach the D-League Select team in the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas in July. … Trey McKinney-Jones may play for the Miami Heat in summer league ball.