MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Josiah Peay purchased the rights to an American Basketball Association (ABA) team, the Central Pennsylvania Kings, less than a year ago this past December. The ABA has over 150 semi-professional men’s basketball teams in the league across the country.
Peay said that on Dec. 14, 2019, he knew that the price of the team would be raised the following day, so he made his decision that day and purchased the team.
“What did I just do?,” Peay thought to himself after purchasing the team.
His thoughts of uncertainty, however, were no match for what was about to happen with what would be the spread of COVID-19 months later.
He had everything lined up, including sponsorships and a venue to play in. Then when the pandemic hit, although grateful, he said all he could get was an auditorium with some hoops.
“I had to start from scratch… there’s a lot of words I’ve taken out of my vocabulary and ‘can’t’ is one of them,” Peay said.
When he could finally hold tryouts when it was considered safer to do so by the city, Peay said he managed to find a good group of guys who were exactly what he was looking for.
“I had a guy drive from two hours away,” Peay said. “First off, he was crazy enough to do that, so I was like I like this guy. He drove back home after tryouts, then drove back Saturday and tried out again.
“Another guy figured out we moved tryouts to the park 15 minutes away from the gym, and he didn’t want to be late so he ran from the gym to get to the park.”
The more than motivated Central Pennsylvania Kings were ready for their first official game ever, but the pandemic forced the season to be delayed. They were set to begin on Nov. 7, but the CEO of the ABA announced that it would have to be postponed for Jan. 2, 2021.
With that announcement and what Peay describes as one of the biggest hurdles with gyms not really being open right now, he talked about what the future may hold for the team.
“We have some options, or we could just sit the season out,” Peay said.
But sitting out of the season is a last resort. He feels like he has something special to offer the area, especially since he believes he has a solid collection of players who know how to play the game well. Peay also feels like his team has something to offer the youth.
“The purpose of this team is for the community and the kids,” Peay said. “Right now there is every team in the Harrisburg area except basketball, so right now is the perfect time. We are community guys, having these men be people to look up to since this team didn’t have that. We need this culture.”
In terms of their upcoming season set to begin next year, Peay believes they will be a great force, even though this will be their first season playing as a team.
“We had two scrimmages so far and we did pretty well, but there are little things we need to work on,” Peay said.
He is hopeful in his men making it to the playoffs, which he acknowledged that the word is a minimum of 12 games need to be played in order to qualify for the playoffs this upcoming season in particular.
Once games do begin, the ABA is unsure if spectators will be allowed even at that point, but Peay said tickets will be roughly $5-$10. In order to bring more attention to the team, he said he has been working on his own marketing.
“All I want you to do is take a look at the website,” he said. “We don’t need too much because I got us. But be there and cheer us on and rock with us.”
Peay has a wife and three kids, a job at an elementary school and now owns his own basketball team.
“Every time I’m awake my mind is thinking about what’s next,” Peay said.
He has an extensive background on the court. He received a Division I scholarship to play at the University of Maine, and he said that he was a student first, since that is what comes first in the term “student-athlete”.
“I wanted to put my scholarship to use and take advantage of my opportunities,” he said.
Peay bounced around the ABA, playing for a couple of teams. He says he got to experience a good stretch of what the league has to offer on the player side, which is why he reached out to the CEO of the ABA to talk about having a team closer to the Harrisburg area.
He says he still wants to play on the highest level possible, but is excited to see how the Central Pennsylvania Kings will open up paths for him and the men on his team.