The Rapid City Thrillers were a semi-professional basketball team in Rapid City, South Dakota, that competed in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) beginning in the 1987 season.[1] They were reincarnated in 1998 as an International Basketball Association franchise. One of the many notable players of the team was Keith Smart, who played for the Indiana Hoosiers when they won the NCAA tournament in 1987.[2]

Rapid City Thrillers
Rapid City Thrillers logo
LeaguesCBA 1984–1997
IBA 1998–1999
HistoryTampa Bay Thrillers
Rapid City Thrillers
Florida Beach Dogs
Rapid City Thrillers
ArenaRushmore Plaza Civic Center
LocationRapid City, South Dakota
Team colorsred, white, blue
Head coachBill Musselman 1985–1987
Tom Nissalke 1988
Flip Saunders 1989
Eric Musselman 1990
Keith Fowler 1991
Jim Calvin 1991
Eric Musselman 1992–1997
OwnershipPat Hall
Championships3 (1985, 1986, 1987)

The Thrillers had some very notable head coaches in its time. First, Bill Musselman coached the team to three consecutive CBA titles during the 1980s.[3] Musselman then moved to the NBA as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Later, Flip Saunders coached the Thrillers for a season and later became head coach of the NBA's Washington Wizards. Keith Fowler coached the team during one of their only losing seasons. Eric Musselman (son of Bill Musselman) coached the team successfully for seven years but was never able to bring the championship back to the franchise, although the team was runner-up three separate times during its existence.[4]

This team traced its history back to the Tampa Bay Thrillers of the Continental Basketball Association. They won consecutive CBA titles in their first two seasons. However, the team never drew well, and abruptly changed cities in 1987. The Thrillers moved to Rapid City at the conclusion of the regular season, but didn't stop the team's momentum, as they won their third consecutive title.

After eight and a half seasons, the team moved to West Palm Beach where they became the Florida Beach Dogs. The Beach Dogs lasted only two seasons folding after losing the championship series to the Oklahoma City Cavalry.

After the Thrillers left Rapid City, professional basketball continued in the form of the Black Hills Posse of the International Basketball Association. In 1998 the Black Hills Posse were sold to John Tuschman (former owner of the original Thrillers). Tuschman tried to spark the old spirit the Thrillers had from the late 1980s and early 1990s, by renaming the Posse to the Thrillers and bringing back the original "flaming basketball" logo. Tuschman was unsuccessful and the new Thrillers folded after the end of the 1998–99 season. The IBA continued for one more season in Rapid City, as the Black Hills Gold played in the 1999–2000 season for one year, before moving to Mitchell, South Dakota and becoming the South Dakota Gold. Rapid City has been without professional basketball since.


Year League Reg. Season Playoffs
1984/85 CBA 2nd, Eastern Champions
1985/86 CBA 1st, Eastern Champions
1986/87 CBA 1st, Eastern Champions
1987/88 CBA 6th, Western did not qualify
1988/89 CBA 1st, Western Western Division Finals
1989/90 CBA 1st, National Midwest Finals
1990/91 CBA 2nd, National Midwest National First Round
1991/92 CBA 1st, National Northern Finals
1992/93 CBA 1st, National Midwest National Conference Finals
1993/94 CBA 1st, National Midwest National Conference Finals
1994/95 CBA 4th, National Midwest National First Round
1995/96 CBA 1st, National Southern National Conference Finals
1996/97 CBA 1st, American Finals
1998/99 IBA 3rd, West West Division Finals

Notable players



  1. ^ Aust, Scott (April 23, 2008). "Pro basketball could return to the city". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  2. ^ Bordelon, Scottie (May 12, 2021). "Musselman hires Keith Smart to coaching staff". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  3. ^ Rosen, Charley (2018). Sugar: Micheal Ray Richardson, Eighties Excess, and the NBA. University of Nebraska Press pg.98. ISBN 978-1-4962-0216-1.
  4. ^ George, Dave (March 20, 2018). "The wildest man in March Madness may be Eric Musselman, who once coached a CBA team in West Palm Beach". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved August 27, 2021.