A League of Their Own

Title not to be confused with movies about baseball

As it begins to look more and more like I will not be granted an NBA season this year, I was thinking of what I would do with myself.

Then the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire made an asinine statement about “we should start our own league,” which I INITIALLY responded to with “shut the ham-fat up, you fucking idiot” and then I sat a day and thought about it for a little while.

For the sake of the exercise we are to assume that the teams will be self-coached, and that regular event planners and the players’ agents will hash out the monetary details beyond what we will discuss shortly.

What we know:

· There are currently 30 NBA teams that each suit 10-12 players for action every night.

· Some of those players already have or will sign with foreign teams to continue to earn a paycheck play ball while the lockout goes on.

· Some of those players still have either made enough or properly managed their money and/or “brand” to where they won’t NEED to play ball during this fiasco. They will take advantage of this situation to rehab ailments and/or just take a vacation and have some adventures.

What I think I know:

· If the NCAA tournament every year has told me nothing, it is that there are at least 12 venues in the United States that can hold enough people for a big-draw game. I live 7 miles from one of them.

· Players’ sponsors (shoe/clothing companies, food vendors, etc…) pay players big money for their likenesses to be used in commercials, getting those same likenesses on the TV when the “traditional” method is not available is easily sponsored by those same people. Get used to NASCAR-style logos, but hey nothing is free.

· Some players are likely good enough to be a draw overseas, but would rather stay and attend to their mistresses in their home country, where they know the water is safe to drink.

Where am I going with this?:

The players CAN start their own league and it could actually work, and here’s how…

The best 5 willing players on a given team – one for each position – remaining after players have decided to play overseas or take the time off will be the participants.
Team assignments will be done in the style of my childhood pickup games… shoot for it from the top of the key. The first player at each position to make his shot is on the first team and so on and so forth. Continue until all 12 teams are filled.

Events planners will work with venue owners/management to gain use of stadiums, strategically placed with two in each of the southeast, northeast, north and south Midwest, northwest and southwest regions of the United States. Ticket/parking sales would pay event staff, and any overage goes to the players. Yes, literally ANY overage, so this is to be considered when skyboxes are sold on a per-event basis.

Teams would practice daily like they would with any professional organization, but would be self-coached, as the NBA coaches are employees of the owners and cannot have professional contact with the players.

ALL revenue – advertising, overage from ticket sales after event staff is paid, TV rights and (perhaps, if it comes to that) pay-per-view – money is put into one big pot and is shared EQUALLY by the players. No player is paid any more than another for their on-court performance. That piece of the pie can be left to be paid by off-court advertisers like Nutella and Durex.

Wait, did I say PPV?
I surely did… See, the major TV outlets for basketball all have contractual obligations to the NBA already. Realistically, this leaves us with CBS, NBC and FOX for televising these games. I have yet to imagine how many games this would be or if I would simply make it a round robin tournament lasting no longer than two months, but if one of those groups does not pick up this league, then we are looking to PPV to push these out to your living rooms.

In all seriousness, though, I am just daydreaming… I find the prospects of the players unifying well enough to start their own league to be highly bleak. This one would die on the doorstep of the “best 5 players on the team” decision when someone like Baron Davis tries to invite himself into the league and fisticuffs ensue.

Not that “starting our own league” was ever the answer to the problem in the first place. As ever, I side with the millionaires being paid huge money to play a game in a highly profitable manner. I am under the impression that they, in that they take on 100% of the physical risk so the owners can make good on their fiduciary input/risk in the situation. If 384 people are 100% of the visible talent, then they’re doing a FAVOR to allow the overseers 47% of Basketball Related Income. Remember that the owners KEEP anything they make NOT basketball related, most especially the value of possession that are their teams.

Give me more than an hour to think about this, and I might be able to come up with a better working model for this league thing.


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