Chad Gray is a trucker whose next stop is becoming an owner of a men’s semipro basketball team. 

Besides driving a big rig and tending to his three American bulldogs, he continues to play basketball, but Gray, 40, saw an opportunity to be an owner of an American Basketball Association men’s team, which is called the Maine Bulldogs and will play home games at the Lewiston Armory.

The Bridgeport, Connecticut native, who is now living Gardiner, spent a lot of time trying out for teams around the nation. He played college basketball for several schools inside and outside Maine, including the University of Maine at Augusta and Husson and Thomas colleges. 

“I noticed there was nothing here in Maine,” he said. “I started playing for a team out in Massachusetts (from) the American Basketball Association, and in the process, I was kind of seeing what they were doing and then mapping it out in my head … of this is how I would do it.” 

A knee injury sidelined him so he made a decision to proceed with his plans to start an ABA team in Maine. 

“By Feb. 1, we actually got our paperwork done,” he said. “We are a solidified team and the rest is history. It was pretty much me not only doing something for myself …. (but) it is more so for those young guys who just want to play beyond high school and play beyond college. They have an opportunity now here in Maine. They don’t have to go elsewhere looking for a new start.” 


The Bulldogs held their first tryouts earlier this spring. 

“It went great,” Gray said. “It went better than I actually thought it would go. And then we have our two-day combine coming up on (this) Saturday and Sunday. We are going from 11 o’clock until 3 p.m.”

The combine is for players who made the first cut at the earlier tryouts, according to the Maine Bulldogs’ Instagram account. It will be held at the Lewiston Armory, where the Bulldogs will play their home games — most of them, anyway.

“The (Armory) is where we will play all of our home games,” Gray said. “I am thinking about the fans’ sake (of) playing two to three games in possibly different areas like the Bangor area, the Augusta area and then the Portland area. I am thinking about doing that just for the fans who probably can’t get to a Lewiston game.” 

Gray is receiving positive vibes about the team’s marketing and branding from ABA owner Chad Newman and other teams in the league. The team’s website,, is also up and running. 

He is well-aware that the Lewiston-Auburn Maples, a women’s ABA team, also call the Armory home. 


“Why not have two teams under that same umbrella … just help each other out,” Gray said. 

Gray said he is planning on producing media shows like the “Bulldog Beat,” which will be about touting staff and players. He added the Bulldogs will begin their season in November. 

“We should have a team set by July,” Gray said. “And then now we can go back into some practices, training sessions for specific players. I am going to be the owner and I am actually going to play as well, too. I think there are four teams that actually have owners-players.”


Maine Bulldogs coach Willie Ponds shares the same passion for basketball with Gray. 

Ponds, 66, played for the Boston Celtics for one year in 1985 and also played for the United States Army’s basketball team for a majority of his 20-year hitch. He has also had a long coaching career in and outside the ABA and remains a pastor working as a shelter manager for Union Mission Ministries in Virginia. 


“I am looking at basketball as a steppingstone to help young men,” Ponds said. “I love working with young men and so I love basketball, but I am just trying to give back what God has given me — an opportunity for me to play at high level. 

“So this is a great opportunity to do that, especially with a team that is just starting so we can build a great foundation. What I like the most is we can set a high foundation of basketball. After the ball stops bouncing, that person that I coached is still going to have to live life.” 

Ponds, a Portsmouth, Virginia native, said the game of basketball “mirrors life” in a lot of ways. He also added that he will see how the long commute from Virginia will play out when the season begins. 

“Right now, I am in it to win it,” he said. “I am 66, but I can still hoop. I have a youthful spirit.” 

Ponds has always been impressed with the ABA and has confidence in the Bulldogs’ owner. 

“Mr. Gray is a wonderful man to work for,” Ponds said. “I want to bring in some pure professionalism to the sport here in Lewiston. So it is not going to be roll the balls out and some picture of some guy in there playing like it is pick-up. It is going to be highly professional, and we are just going to work to build the best team.”

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