The PBL was formed after a number of disagreements between several former member teams of the modern American Basketball Association (ABA) and ABA CEO Joe Newman. Eight of the initial ten PBL teams either played in or were slated to play in the ABA.
In early 2007, Newman was voted out of his position as CEO of the ABA by the board of directors, which included Maryland Nighthawks owner and then-ABA COO Tom Doyle (who was later a commissioner of the PBL), citing dissatisfaction with how Newman executed his duties as CEO. Newman responded by using his and other shares that formed a controlling interest to remove the entire board of directors.
Newman then refused to reschedule a weather-delayed playoff game between the Rochester Razorsharks and Wilmington Sea Dawgs although the two teams agreed to a make up date, wanting instead to force Rochester to accept a forfeit. It was on the heels of these two incidents that the Nighthawks and Razorsharks ownership groups decided to found the PBL.
Former Houston Rockets point guard and current NBA on TNT analyst Kenny Smith was the league's first commissioner.
During the 2008 off season, six more former ABA teams decided to move to the PBL. First, on May 9, the Manchester Millrats and the 2006–2007 and 2007–2008 ABA champion Vermont Frost Heaves moved. Then on May 20, the inactive Detroit Panthers re-activated and joined the league. And on May 21, the Quebec Kebs joined. On June 5 another team with an ABA history, the Augusta Groove, joined the league, but from the Continental Basketball Association. On June 23, the Halifax Rainmen, an ABA team the previous year, announced they were also joining the PBL after a bid to join the NBA Development League fell short. The first International Basketball League defection came on July 31 when the Battle Creek Knights joined the league. The Rochester Razorsharks went on to win their second straight PBL title after beating the Battle Creek Knights.
On February 5, 2009, the league removed the original ownership of the Montreal Sasquatch for non-payment of players and removed the team from the league. Montreal's four best players were drafted by other teams and all of the other players were given unconditional releases. However, on February 11, the league announced new ownership for the team and the team was reinstated for the remainder of the year.
Two thirds of the way through their inaugural season, there was a split among the members of the ownership group of the Mid-Michigan Destroyers and the team suspended operations for the remainder of 2009. The league also said the remaining Mid-Michigan games on the schedule would be filled by the remaining teams in the league.
The Rochester Razorsharks had to delay the third game of their semi-final series. By the time the finals would have taken place, there were concerns about date availability at Kellogg Arena (home of the Battle Creek Knights) and the ability of the league to honor a commitment to broadcast the games overseas due to limited broadcast capability from Kellogg Arena. Rather than the scheduled best-of three finals series a single game final was played at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
The Battle Creek Knights, the Wilmington Sea Dawgs and the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry would not return for the 2010 season. The Maryland Nighthawks changed the name of their franchise to the Maryland GreenHawks. The Puerto Rico Capitanes joined the league, performing concurrently in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional.
At the end of the season, the league officially severed ties with the Buffalo Stampede, citing a failure by the team to adhere to league standards. The Maryland GreenHawks were also dropped from the league. The Bluegrass Stallions, another ABA team, joined. The league also added the expansion Dayton Air Strikers.
In January, the Vermont Frost Heaves abruptly announced the cessation of operations and their players were dispersed via a draft. The Rochester Razorsharks won the league championship after several controversial games where the impartiality of officiating was called into question by other league members. In addition, the Lawton Constitution reported that Micheal Ray Richardson, the coach of the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry, stated they will not return to the PBL. After the season was over, Saint John Mill Rats, Halifax Rainmen, and Quebec Kebs left to form the NBL Canada. Only Rochester Razorsharks returned to PBL.
On 24 May 2011, the league filed a lawsuit against the Our Sports Central website and one poster over posts on the message boards claiming some of the league games were fixed.
The league approved expansion teams in Chicago and Scranton, Pennsylvania for the 2012 PBL season. Also, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Madison, Wisconsin were named as cities pending approval for expansion teams.
On 18 July 2011, the PBL announced the Dayton Air Strikers were returning to the league for the 2012 season. In addition, the Northwestern Illinois-based Sauk Valley Predators began their inaugural season in the PBL for 2012. On August 22, 2011, it was announced the Charleston Gunners would be the PBL's sixth team for the 2012 season. On September 15, 2011, it was announced the Northwest Indiana Stars were leaving the ABA to be the PBL's seventh team for the 2012 season. On 21 September 2011 it was announced the Lake Michigan Admirals were also leaving the ABA to be the PBL's eighth team for the 2012 season. On 23 September 2011 it was announced that the PBL's ninth team for the 2012 season would be the Central Illinois Drive based in Bloomington, Illinois. On October 12, 2011, it was announced that the Indiana Diesels were also leaving the ABA to be the PBL's tenth team for the 2012 season. On October 14, 2011, it was announced that the St. Louis Pioneers were also leaving the ABA to join the PBL, changing their name to the St. Louis Phoenix.
The Central Illinois Drive won the PBL championship for 2012, defeating the Rochester RazorSharks, 101-80. The Drive was 18-1 in regular season and 22-1 total.
The 2013 season began in March 2013. During the off season the league announced it would be merging with the Independent Basketball Association to form the IBA-PBL. Prior to the start of the season, the defending champions, the Central Illinois Drive, ceased operations, but were then rebooted as the Bloomington Flex.
On 24 May 2013, the six PBL teams announced that the two leagues would cease interleague play, and that the leagues would hold separate playoffs. In the first round of the PBL playoffs, the Bloomington Flex beat the Indiana Diesels two games to none, and the Rochester Razorsharks beat the Sauk Valley Predators two games to none. In the finals, the Flex beat the RazorSharks two games to none to win their second consecutive title.
On 21 September 2013, the PBL announced the first of what is expected to be up to six expansion teams, with the Lima Express signing to play for the 2014 season, which will begin in January.
On 12 November 2013, the PBL announced the addition of the Pee Dee Vipers, an expansion team based in Florence, South Carolina. Three days later, the league announced that the Lake Michigan Admirals would return for 2014. On November 25, the PBL announced the addition of the Buffalo 716ers and the Erie Hurricane. In late November the Chicago Tide joined the league.
On 6 February 2014, it was announced that the newly formed Grand Rapids Cyclones would join the PBL.
When league officials realized the championship series, as scheduled, would take place over Easter weekend, the league moved the playoff schedule up by one week at the request of Scott Henderson and the Bloomington Flex. The change in schedule resulted in the second-place team in the East Division, the Carolina Pee Dee Vipers having no available dates in its arena, the Florence Civic Center. The league immediately announced that the 2014 playoffs would then consist of a finals between the two division winners with a best-of three championship series. The finals series would start Sunday, April 6 in Rochester.
Bloomington, the two-time defending league champions, balked at having to play a game Friday, traveling Saturday, and then playing Sunday afternoon in Rochester citing previous venue obligation and not enough travel time between their scheduled game Friday and the first championship game Sunday.
Mr. Henderson was subsequently suspended from the league for unwillingness to cooperate and inability to play the scheduled championship series. The Midwest Division's second place Indianapolis Diesels were then named division representative and were scheduled to play the RazorSharks in the 2014 PBL championship series.
The finals started April 6, in Rochester with the RazorSharks coming away with a one-point win over the Diesels. Rochester won the game on a rebound tip-in after two missed free throws which were awarded on a blocking call against Indianapolis with :03 remaining in the game.
Several games in the 2015 season had to be postponed due to winter weather, leading to a rescheduling of games in March to ascertain that every team in the league would have played at least 15 games before the playoffs. The best-of-three finals-only playoffs between Midwest Division Champions Lake Michigan Admirals and East Division Champions Rochester RazorSharks opened on March 21 in Waterlivet, Michigan, with game two set for March 28 in Rochester. The Rochester RazorSharks won the 2015 PBL Championship, winning the first two games in a best-of three series against the Lake Michigan Admirals.
Many new franchise additions occurred in the 2015 off-season including the Jamestown Jackals, Kentucky Mavericks, Western New York Thundersnow, and the return of the Danville Riverhawks. Mavericks owner Jerry Nelson also become an equity partner in the PBL. In addition, the PBL gained a new Southeast Conference which includes six members of the Tobacco Road Basketball League: Cary Invasion, Charlotte Elite, Durham Legacy, Huntersville HoopForLyfe, Raleigh Revolt, and the Wilmington Sea Dawgs.2009: Alex Harper, Wilmington Sea Dawgs
2010: Melvin Council, Rochester Razorsharks
2011: Eddie Smith, Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry
2012: Rodney Edgerson, Central Illinois Drive
2013: Darin Mency, Rochester Razorsharks
2014: John Hart, Indianapolis Diesels
2015: Kyle Meyer, Lima Express
2016: Melvin Council, Rochester Razorsharks
2009: Jonas Pierre, Quebec Kebs and Al Stewart, Manchester Millrats
2010: Eric Crookshank, Halifax Rainmen
2011: Eric Crookshank, Halifax Rainmen
2012: Marcel Anderson, Chicago Muscle
2013: Nate Fuqua, Bloomington Flex
2014: Courtney Blackmore, Lake Michigan Admirals
2015: Troy Franklin, Lake Michigan Admirals
2010: Eric Gilchrese, Manchester Millrats & Halifax Rainmen
2011: Todd McCoy, Rochester Razorsharks
2013: Josiah Whitehead, Bloomington Flex
2014: Jamaal Francis, Lynchburg Titans
2015: Josh Chichester, Grand Rapids Cyclones
2016: Michael Davenport, Jamestown Jackals