AHL bragging rights at stake in NBA Finals

The San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers have more in common than just being the last two teams competing for the 2007 NBA championship. They are both partners in the American Hockey League as owners of AHL franchises and members of the league’s Board of Governors.

The Spurs became involved in the AHL in 2002 when they purchased a franchise to play at the AT&T Center. The San Antonio Rampage, now the top affiliate of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, will hit the ice for their sixth season this fall.

Dan Gilbert, majority owner of the Cavaliers, is also the majority owner of the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, who will begin their inaugural AHL season in October as the top affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Like the Cavs, the Monsters will call the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland home.

The NBA Finals continue on Thursday with the Spurs one win away from their fourth championship in nine years. The Cavaliers are in search of their first title, and are in the Finals for the first time in their 37-year history.

The AHL’s synergy with the National Basketball Association goes back to 1946, when AHL president Maurice Podoloff was appointed president of a newly formed league that would soon become the NBA. Podoloff served as the head of both the AHL and NBA until 1952. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974, and the NBA’s MVP award is named in his honor.