Flint native bringing professional basketball back to the city

Flint United Combine Dates

* October 24 in Flint
* November 7 in Detroit
* November 21 in Lansing
* December 12 in Saginaw
* January 9 in Grand Rapids
* January 16 in Flint

Registration information is online

The city of Flint is synonymous with basketball. That, above all else, is why Flint native Kevin Mays wanted to bring a professional team back to the city.


“The game of basketball is a mainstay in our community, we’re very prideful about it, it’s what we’re built on,” Mays said. “Thinking of this as a next pillar and foundation for the community, that kind of drove me, continuing the tradition in basketball and sports as a whole in Flint.”


Flint United will begin play in March of 2021 and be a part of The Basketball League. Flint United will play a 24-game schedule after conducting tryouts across the Midwest over the next few months. A streaming service will broadcast all 24 games, so fans will be able to watch even if COVID-19 restrictions prevent attending sporting events in person when the season launches. The team is still in talks about a venue to play in next season.


Mays is no stranger to Flint athletics. He was a star two-sport athlete at Carman-Ainsworth in high school, competing on the football and track teams. At Central Michigan University, he was a two-time All-American on the track and field team and also played football for two years at CMU.


“Growing up in this community and going to games and traveling to the Breslin Center to see Beecher and Carman-Ainsworth and Powers play for state titles, and just being around a little bit of the time with KT (former Michigan Mr. Basketball Kelvin Torbert) and the Flintstones -- you can’t live in this city and not be in awe or have fanfare about the game,” Mays said. “It’s very high on the priority list to ensure those guys are well-represented by this team.”


Mays has also played a key role for two successful Flint sports franchises. He has worked for the Flint Firebirds, an OHL hockey team that plays at Dort Financial Credit Union Arena, and the Flint City Bucks, a USL2 soccer team that plays at Atwood Stadium on Kettering University’s campus. Seeing the success of both of those teams up close over the last several years has shown Mays that a TBL team can also succeed here.


“Seeing the landscape of the city and seeing the support for the Firebirds and Bucks showed me how much room we have to continue to add amenities and entertainment to the the city,” he said.


Flint United will feature a slightly different model than the Firebirds or Bucks. Firebirds players are often high school age, so the team has to find host families, education options, and other responsibilities while players are under contract with the team. Bucks players are often college athletes who play for a summer or two before rejoining their college teams or going on to professional training camps. The United will be strictly a professional league, allowing players to prepare or add skills as they look for opportunities in the NBA, NBA G League or foreign professional leagues.


Mays noted that, due to travel restrictions from COVID-19, the number of opportunities for players to play overseas has decreased, making the expansion of domestic leagues vital.


“The TBL is a great landing spot for guys to stay on the court and continue to develop their game,” he said. “It’s a win for American basketball because we get to keep some players here and showcase their talents.”


Flint United has Instagram and Twitter pages set up, with more information on how to connect with the team expected in the coming weeks. Mays said that fans can expect a team that is entertaining, professional, and honors the city’s rich basketball history.


“Number one on list is to put together a franchise that is highly competitive, so our fans know we care about the game and they are entertained,” Mays said. “Elements from every aspect of the community -- youth, high school, guys who have played successfully collegiately or professionally, all of those things will be covered in our presentation to the city. We want to truly give the community something to be proud of.”

Read more articles by Patrick Hayes.