San Jose Thrust
|San Jose Thrust|
|History||Stanislaus Thrust |
San Jose Thrust
|Arena||Rabbit Valley Pavilion II|
|City||San Jose, CA|
|Team colors||Purple, Black, Silver |
|Owner(s)||Foo-Foo (female American eskimo dog)|
|RL Primary Contact||Drakken|
|General manager||Daisuke Tatsugami (Male Serval)|
|Lead trainer||Colson Grainger (male otter)|
|Conference titles||1 (2009, 2011)|
|Division titles||3 (2009, 2010, 2011)|
|Retired numbers||16 Manuel Katz|
7 Buck Hopper
69 Barnaby Jazz
The San Jose Thrust is a professional basketball team based in San Jose, California. They play in the Pacific Rim Division of the Western Conference in the Furry Basketball Association (FBA). The franchise was one of 6 teams created in the 1995 FBA Expansion in an effort to attract more attention to the FBA from rural communities across North America. Up until 2012 the team was formerly named the Stanislaus Thrust and were based in Modesto, California.
Of the six teams created in 1994 to expand the league, the Stanislaus Thrust were the most focused on attracting rural fans. With the Montana Howlers dominating the 70's and 80's with their rosters of feral carnivores, the FBA had become a sea of fanged ballers and ferocious play that did little to attract domestic fans, particular those from rural communities. The selection of the city of Modesto, California, was based on its location in the heart of the California Central Valley, long populated by domestics engaged in agriculture, but also on its relative proximity to the valuable San Francisco Bay Area, with hopes that it could help bridge the gap of attracting rural fans to basketball while earning needed support from traditional urban fans.
The experiment had a rough start. The first Thrust roster was all feral carnivores which did not attract the sheep, goat, horse, cattle, swine, or fowl potential fans in the area. And while some hardcore fans from the Bay Area would make the trip, there were never enough to keep the club well funded. The Thrust struggled in its first years, primarily surviving on enormous support from the FBA central office which was determined to make their massive investment in the franchise succeed.
For several seasons, the club tried to rework their roster to find a group that would attract local fans, often trading away talented carnivores for untalented herbivores. The team's efforts failed year after year as the Thrust quickly became a perennial cellar dweller in their first year.
The Lance Cheval Years
The club's big break finally came in 2000. Lance Cheval was a massive 7' 1" draft stallion center out of a university in Southern California with a yet-unseen combination of overpowering strength, incredibly quickness in the paint, and glittering good looks. Armed with a lottery pick after another miserable season, the Thrust's management snatched up the big horse. He turned out to be everything the team had been looking for. As a horse, he connected with the local fans, and as a stellar athlete, he gave them incredible shows in Alpo Arena, the club's humble original venue. He was rapidly marketed, becoming the signature name for the team. And with his success, tickets sold and for the first time, basketball fans were paying attention to the Thrust.
The Arrival of Buck Hopper
The club got another break in 2004 when Buck Hopper, a rabbit guard and local basketball hero, became eligible for the 2004 draft. While Cheval was unquestionably an outstanding player, the team had continued to perform poorly so, armed with another lottery pick, the Thrust picked up what would be an even bigger boon for them. Coming out of Stockton, CA, and having played for the local Lapine State University, Hopper was more of a local-kid-done-good than Cheval, who despite his amazing game and domestic species could never shake his elitist image.
The 2004-2005 season was a watershed for the Thrust as they reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The season was peppered with Hopper-to-Cheval alley-oops, including one still included in most best plays lists for the FBA. With Hopper's high-speed penetrating play and Cheval's thundering power in the paint, the duo gave Thrust fans their best season yet, and for the first time Alpo Arena began to sell out games. Even more, the Thrust began to draw attention from other players, with Thrust management finally able to attract more strong players to the club. The Thrust finally made it out of the cellar on the backs of two franchise players.
But it wouldn't last. Unknown to Thrust management, Cheval has quietly been planning to leave the FBA entirely and start a career in Furrywood. Seeing Hopper splitting the limelight, Cheval doubled his efforts and planned for his quick getaway. As soon as the Thrust season ended with their best finish in franchise history, Cheval retired from the FBA, quitting at the peak of his career to pursue a career in Furrywood.
The Don Von Wasser Years
Thrust management scrambled to pick up the pieces. Frustrated at having to explain how their franchise player had dumped them not for another club but to leave the league entirely, they put the blame on the coach and sought a replacement. Most saw a dumpster fire where the Thrust had been, flying too close to the sun with their Hopper/Cheval duo and now only having a broken franchise headed by a young, hot-headed rabbit. That made it hard to find another coach and forced management into more unconventional choices. Don Von Wasser, a non-anthro dolphin who had somehow managed to make himself into a respected college basketball coach despite not being able to leave his water tank at the sidelines, saw the predicament of the Thrust and his one shot at getting into the FBA. When the Thrust took a chance and hired the sea mammal, he began fiercely reorganizing the team.
First, he convinced Manuel Katz, one of the many brilliant but unlucky athletes to play during the Healey Davis years denying him a championship every one of his many years in the league, to stave off his coming retirement and join the Thrust. The very definition of a has-been, many thought Von Wasser was crazy to bring on the aged, beaten-up cat, but Katz turned out to be the foundation needed to support the hot-headed Hopper. Along with a few other unconventional choices, Von Wasser put together an unconventional team built to focus and maximize the raw ability in the spirited rabbit. It worked, and the Thrust managed to squeak into the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Under Von Wasser's guidance, the team rapidly improved. In 2006 Von Wasser had done the impossible and made what many thought was a championship-caliber team. Adding Charles Yotechuk, one of the best power forwards to play the game, was a masterstroke providing the extra weapons the club had been missing. Further, Von Wasser found key assets with Paul Teronura, an undervalued giant otter that had previously played with the Tennessee Moonshiners, and Billy Joe James, a mule center who lacked the good looks of Cheval but brought back his power and skill in the paint. Finally, the pickup of Czech sharpshooting fox Jakub Lyška the year prior from the draft turned out to be a solid choice for the team. With a whole new arsenal of talented players, the Thrust looked poised to go all the way.
It all ended dramatically in Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference Semi-Finals. Absolutely in control of the game, the Thrust were poised to sweep. Despite a massive lead in the fourth quarter, Hopper refused to sit down and humiliated their opponents the Montana Howlers in front of their own crowd. With minutes left to play, Julio Onca, the Howlers' star bigfur, slashed at Hopper and brutally wounded him on the court. With Hopper out for the rest of the playoffs, the season that could have ended with the Thrust finally reaching the Finals instead resulted in an 0-4 loss in the Western Conference Finals.
The First Finals Appearance
With worries that Hopper would never play again, the team scrambled to find a replacement starting point guard. In the 2007 Draft, they selected Joey Cox, one of the only point guards who was faster than Hopper, in the hopes they could train him up quickly to support the rest of the team. But by a miracle, Hopper healed up during the off-season and was ready to play by season's start. And he played great. While the team was shaken by the events of the previous season, the team still made the playoffs again.
Von Wasser, with ever an eye for undervalued talent, took advantage of the Howlers' desperation for another bigfur with the year-long suspension of Onca and traded them Yotechuk for Jack Howell, a quiet wolf power forward with an extraordinary talent for passing. That talent turned into a new weapon by the 2008-2009 season when the Thrust began a stellar rise that matched the power of 2006-2007. With Hopper playing at his peak, Howell and Lyška teaming up into one of the best kick-out-to-three combos in the league, the addition of defensive phenom Doral, and Katz directing an even, ordered assault on every play, the Thrust made it to the 2009 FBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. There they faced the Huntsville Mayors, by now fully developed around Xavier Knutten, the #1 pick from Hopper's 2004 draft class, fighting for their first pennant since the Healey Davis years.
In a stellar series that went to seven games and ended on a buzzer-beating season-winning shot from Xavier Knutten over the paws of both Buck Hopper and Manuel Katz, the Thrust lost the series in the closest finish in FBA history.
Manuel Katz announced his retirement after the game.
Once More, With Feeling
Von Wasser reorganized again. Paul Teronura was eager to return to the Tennessee Moonshiners where his long-time friend and former teammate Barry Carpenter was coming out of an ugly divorce and a bout of depression. But unwilling to ever play on the same team with the arrogant Cletus Swinton again, Von Wasser brokered a trade to bring Swinton to the Thrust in exchange for Teronura. Joey Cox, frustrated at having to play behind Hopper, demanded a trade and was sent to the Baltimore Spirits in a three-way trade that let the Thrust with Randy Catcher, a bullfrog guard and the only amphibian in the league. Catcher turned out to be such a talented guard Von Wasser slid Hopper from point to the 2 guard so the bullfrog could take point.
By 2008, the team also picked up Peter Conner, a cougar small forward, highly recommended by Manuel Katz despite having spent years loathing the wealthy California feline. With draft picks Carlos Syevens-Quiles and Blythe Nacht added to the lineup, Von Wasser had yet another championship-caliber team. And this time they didn't fail.
In a tough Finals series against the Lorain Firestorm where the Thrust stumbled early, almost lost if all in Game 5, but fought back from behind to take it all in a fierce 7 game series, the Thrust prevailed earning their first pennant in franchise history.
((In which Drakken does a lot of research to add info about years 2012-current day *cries* ))
Past Team Captain: Barnaby Jazz
2020 Team Captain: Dewitt Azad Ghakhar
Buck Hopper: #7
Manuel Katz: #16
Barnaby Jazz: #69
Full Roster Stats
|San Jose Thrust Team Contracts
|2021-2022 Budget for||Total
|San Jose Thrust||89.0||79.5||6.0||