The Sioux Falls Skyforce have a rich history, and along with that comes a rich fan base. Many of the fans in Sioux Falls have been around long enough to see the Skyforce transition from the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), to the International Basketball League (IBL), then back to the new CBA, then to the NBA Development League, and have now finally witnessed the League’s rebranding to the NBA G League.
Darren Sommervold is one of those fans.
A Skyforce season ticket holder for over 20 years, Sommervold says the growing talent in the NBA G League is what he enjoys most about the games, and what keeps him coming back year after year. “The level of play is amazing,” said Sommervold. “It’s fun to follow former call-up players and see the impact they have in the NBA.”
There’s been no shortage of former Skyforce players playing in the NBA over the years. In 28 seasons, there have been 52 players that have been plucked out of Sioux Falls by an NBA team on 80 separate occasions. This trend hasn’t slowed down as time has gone on.
Since the Skyforce entered a hybrid affiliation with the Miami HEAT prior to the 2013-14 season, nine different players have been called up a total of 13 times. These NBA Call-Ups include DeAndre Liggins, Justin Hamilton, Tyler Johnson, Larry Drew II, Henry Walker, Andre Dawkins, Briante Weber, and Okaro White. Not to mention names like Rodney McGruder and Jarnell Stokes who were not “called up” but signed contracts with NBA teams during the offseason in that time frame.
The nature of minor league sports lends itself to a rotating door of players and coaches who all share a desire to play at the sport’s highest level. So, after 20-or-more seasons as a season ticket holder, Sommervold has seen his fair share of talented athletes walk through the door. But, who sticks out among the rest?
“There have been a lot of great players, but Victor Page’s toughness definitely stands out to me.”
Who is Victor Page? Page left the University of Georgetown after two seasons, where as a freshman he partnered with Allen Iverson to combine for one of the most dynamic backcourt duos in the NCAA during the 1995-96 season. After leaving, Page went undrafted in the 1997 NBA Draft and found a roster spot on the Sioux Falls Skyforce for parts of the next five seasons.
Page was a bulldog in the backcourt. A not-so-subtle nod to Georgetown’s mascot. Playing in 157 career games, Page finished his career with the Skyforce having cracked the top-10 in 10 major statistical categories. When Page and the Skyforce parted ways for good, he had scored more points than any other player in team history with 2,478. He has since been surpassed.
Other long-time season ticket holders remember Page for his fiery competitiveness and unwillingness to back down. This came to a front during an incident in which Page used a broomstick as a weapon against an opposing player amidst a late-game scuffle during his rookie season. Page played with toughness, intensity, and emotion. We’ll leave it at that.
Despite the three championship seasons, the rising level of talent throughout the league, and the notable players who have passed through the city of Sioux Falls over the years, not all Skyforce memories are centered on basketball. Sommervold, who frequently uses his tickets to attend games with friends and family, has a unique experience that serves as his favorite Skyforce memory.
“My wife went into labor with our first child at a Skyforce game,” said Sommervold.
That’s true fandom.
The Skyforce moved from the Sioux Falls Arena to the Sanford Pentagon in 2013, one of many transitions that has happened over the years, and have since enjoyed one of the best home court advantages of any team in the NBA G League. Though the Pentagon is smaller in capacity than the arena, the Skyforce play in front of a packed house, and an excited and noisy fan base on a nightly basis. Rain, sleet or snow…the fans show up to support their players, and the players don’t take it for granted.
“I think the fans are unbelievable,” said Okaro White, current Miami HEAT forward and former Skyforce player. “They come out and support us. I also think it’s a history thing…the fans and the city is really pushing for this team.”
Specifically tailored to host basketball games, tournaments, and events, the Pentagon’s throwback feel and close-to-court seating allow fans to connect with players rising to NBA rosters on a whole new level. Whether fans use tickets for family entertainment, getting together with friends, or treating employees or clients to a night out, Skyforce games provide a unique, friendly, and exciting experience. Take it from someone who has been around for a few years:
“The Pentagon is a great venue for watching a basketball game, and having an excited crowd definitely provides a great home court advantage,” said Sommervold. “Skyforce season tickets are great for anyone–family nights, a night out with friends, or providing gifts to clients.”