At the beginning of the 2001 season it seemed that the more things were supposed to change...the more they stayed the same.
It began when Atlanta Hawks scout Mike Sheppard was hired to replace Kent Davison as head coach of the Legend. Davisons head coaching position in the Continental Basketball Association was to have kept him from returning to Dodge City. However, in February the CBA went out of business, then in late March Sheppard resigned to take a collegiate coaching position.
Three weeks before the season, Kent Davison returned and brought his Fort Wayne Fury assistant Cliff Levingston with him.
Davison quickly assembled a squad before the April 29 opener at home against the Kansas Cagerz. On a night when the Legend celebrated their USBL Championship with a pre-game ring and banner raising ceremony, the Cagerz had the last laugh posting a 93-90 win.
A four game season opening losing streak came to an end on the road against Robert Parish and the eventual Northern Division champion Maryland Mustangs. Marshall Phillips, playing his first game with the Legend scored 37 points, had 13 rebounds and nine steals as the Legend won in double-overtime 107-97. Dodge City returned from their first East Coast trip with a 1-6 record.
On May 12, Donte Mathis scored 24 as the Legend picked up their first win in three tries against the Lakeland Blue Ducks 104-99 at the Civic Center. A 102-100 home loss to Florida and a 117-104 loss at Oklahoma dropped the record to 2-8 before the Legend began the crawl back to a winning record.
Three home wins in a row over Maryland (112-93), Atlantic City (137-97) and eventual USBL Champion Pennsylvania (139-114) gave the Legend some momentum. Marshall Phillips scored a team season high 41 points while Kelvin Price grabbed a record 20 rebounds in the big win over the Dawgs. After a loss at Salina to the Cagerz, Marshall Phillips led the way with 35 points, Kelvin Price tied the team record with 20 rebounds as the Legend posted a 98-96 win over the Cagerz at home.
A one point loss at Southern Division leader Oklahoma showed that Dodge City could be competitive on the road, then one night later the Legend overcame adversity to beat the Cagerz 96-91 at the Bicentennial Center. On June 8, Oklahoma came to the Civic Center and left with a 83-82 win. The next night in Enid, the Legend grabbed a big road win over the Storm 109-106.
Anthony Pelle had 18 points and eight boards as the Legend beat Long Island at home 120-94, followed by a home loss to Oklahoma 103-93. A 97-91 win at the Civic Center over Kansas sent the Legend on a road trip to Florida and the Northeast. Road losses at Florida and Long Island started the trip before the Legend put a team record 151 points on the scoreboard in a big win at Atlantic City.
Home wins over Lakeland (107-99) and Brooklyn (102-100) closed the home portion of the schedule. The regular season came to an end at Salina with a 96-89 loss to the Cagerz.
The Legend entered the USBL Post-Season Festival in Pennsylvania with a 15-15 record and a number seven seed in an eight team tournament, but they played like the defending champions they were.
On a wild day of first round action, the four olwer seeded teams upset the four higher seeds. D. De City rallied back from 20 points down in the second half to beat Northern Division Champion Maryland on a 23 foot shot at the final buzzer by Donte Mathis, 109-106.
In the semi-final game, Jeff Boese scored 21 points as the Legend beat Lakeland for the third time of the season 95-79, setting up a USBL Championship showdown with the Pennsylvania Valleydawgs on their home floor.
The Legend hung tough, closing to within four points late, but Darryl Dawkins won his first title 100-91.
It was a satisfying end to what had been a roller coaster season. The slow start was erased by the fast finish...and a second straight trip to the USBL title game. A 17-16 record kept the winning tradition alive in Dodge City.