Blog Entry

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 9:24 pm
Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter-small

On Monday, the National Basketball Players Association disbanded so that it could file antritrust lawsuits against the NBA, charging the league with an illegal boycott. By Wednesday, its executive director, Billy Hunter, was publicly raising the possibility that the players could form their own professional basketball league independent of the NBA.

Writer Toure reports that Hunter addressed the possibility during a panel discussion.
Billy Hunter: "The season is not yet on life support. There's still time to put on an abbreviated season... The players decision to blow up the union [decertify] was unanimous. They were high-fiving, sayin let's get it on! ... The owners are scared of Lebron style movement and want to keep players wedded to franchises.... Maybe we can start our own league. There are facilities where we can do that. Can't play at MSG but can play at St John's... There’s talk of getting a TV deal and creating a new league but it’d have to be with a network that’s unafraid to cross the NBA."
Not to overuse legal phrases because we're stuck in this quagmire of lawyers, but the burden of proof is on the players -- whether that's as individuals, a group, a union or a trade association -- to show that they can organize -- not to mention profit from -- anything besides one-off exhibition games. Since the lockout went into effect in July, the NBA's biggest stars have criss-crossed the country for charity and drawn crowds of varying sizes along the way. When big draws like LeBron James and Kevin Durant were involved, there was hardly an empty seat.

But when the players have attempted to put together anything larger in scale, it hasn't worked from an economics perspective. There was the entertaining Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas, which drew dozens of players for two weeks of competitive 5-on-5 action. It also drew dozens of fans, literally, and never came close to selling out a gym that seats 500 people. There was also a globetrotting world tour that was expected to feature every big name star imaginable; that fizzled completely before the first stop, a visit to nearby Puerto Rico, could get off the ground.

Forming their own league -- however loosely you want to define that term -- is much more difficult than it sounds. The personnel infrastructure to support it, the buildings to house it, the sponsors to help pay for it, the television network to broadcast it: all of those are major, difficult questions that would need to be answered. Those answers would take precious time too.

A players' league is not impossible but it's also not particularly probable. The players would wind up playing, and risking injury, for a small fraction of their NBA salaries.

Hunter likely floats the idea here because he must appear totally serious about the players' antitrust lawsuits against the league. Even though most expect the lawsuits to lead to more negotiations rather than a years-long legal battle, Hunter has to at least pay lip service to the possibility of an alternative professional basketball reality without the NBA. Unfortunately, much like the decision to issue the disclaimer of interest, forming a league is something that he should have been planning carefully months ago if he felt a protracted legal battle was a real possibility. There's no reason that NBA All-Stars shouldn't be putting on a 10-city goodwill tour throughout December, entertaining fans and applying pressure on the negotiations along the way.

Instead, more players are heading overseas and Hunter continues to talk about future possibilities that will likely never come to fruition. Everybody loses. 

Hat tip: Slam Online 

Since: Mar 10, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2011 8:17 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Sure go ahead start your own league. Two divisions the EGOS and the Felons.

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: November 20, 2011 2:06 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I'm not really commenting on this story.  I am just surprised that the NBA season isn't officially over yet.  I have commented before that I don't really care about basketball anymore, that this whole situation is ridiculous, that both the players and owners are coming off like idiots.  But every Sunday while I'll check my fantasy scores and do a little light sports reading I click on NBA at the top of the screen and get the latest.  Maybe next week I will get my wish and see the season is over. 

On a side note - does anyone at the NBA check the home page of  The enitire NBA season is on the line and the Cubs manager search got more attention than your silly lockout.  The NBA can't even compete with off-season baseball.  They should take a good long look at the reality of their sport.  It's not as popular as they think. 

Since: Aug 4, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2011 12:27 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

For what I have seen and heard from Hunter the players might consider another consultant. Even with all the degrees and possible prestige he might have, he is near the top of the stupid pyramid.

If I was a player I would be suing him for the stupid consulting he has given, thus not allowing me to fully support my family. (Gotta have something to sue him for)
Who in the Sam thunder is gonna pay for this new league and all the infrastructure?

Where would the TV deals come from? Would there be a ceiling as to how much a team would cost to be in this league? What facilities are available for these teams to play in?

Would they be allowed to play in the same cities as current NBA teams are located. I think there would be lawsuits all over the place.

Who would coach these teams I am sure the current NBA coaches would not be legally allowed to do so.

The most important thing would be ego’s among the players as to the teams that would allow super stars and how many could be on one team. We are  now back to one of the reasons we have the current lockout and possible dissolving the current union.


Since: Aug 4, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2011 12:13 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

An elderly gentleman once told me you can not cure stupidity. This is exactly what is wrong with the players and owners of the NBA. Both are stuck on stupid. They would rather eat the Golden Calf than share the Golden Calf.

 I have just about come to the conclusion that perhaps basketball is no longer a game I would want to attend, except when in a city where I have never been to the basketball arena or other sports arenas in that city.

I think I will start watching an occasional Laker game on TV.

Since: Nov 20, 2011
Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:44 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

The NBA should stand for the "national Bafoon Assoc."...I have no sympathy for either side. The players already earn more $$ thsn they should and the owners are just a bunch of frustrated men with too much money and not enough common sense. They created this problem by paying out those huge contracts to one up each other. I, for one don't care if they ever get this resolved because after coaching basketball for the past 15 years at the high school level, theNBA has done more damage than anyone outside the game can appreciate. Kids pick up all sorts of bad habits watching these guys from traveling on drives to the hole, carrying the ball at will, not playing defense and their "look at me" attitudes instead of playing as a team. I'll take college bball over the pros ( pros ONLY because they are paid to play) anytime.

Since: Aug 3, 2008
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:32 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Form their own league.  Right.  Beyond naive.  Go ahead and form some kind of league and lose even more money. The refs should be real good.  Didn't Stern say the owners were ready to sit out 2 seasons?  Yeah, call his 'bluff,' players.  Go ahead.  A 30 team league would be good.

Since: Aug 20, 2007
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:30 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I say let the players form a new basketball league, completely separated from the NBA, and play to their heart's content.  It's morally wrong to discourage anybody, regardless of their status, to do what guys want to see.  Apparently at this moment they don't care about what we want, so we might as well let them enjoy what they want to do.  The owners will just have to find new players to replace the empty spots.  Everybody wins!

Since: Jan 28, 2011
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:12 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I've just read through 19 pages of nothing but fans telling players to take a hike. Now, I wonder how many of these geniuses, or their agents, read these letters, but let it be a warning. If 19 pages of pissed off fans isn't a sign to you, then you don't deserve to be in front of cheering fans when- or IF- the season starts. Haven't you seen over and over that we come to cheer on our team- not YOU!
I have reached the point (as well as the other 19 pages worth or writers) where I just want to see basketball and I would be just as happy to see SCABS! So Billy "the village idiot" Hunter says that the players said "They were high-fiving, sayin let's get it on!" concerning the decision to blow up the union? I think the only ones stupider than the NBA player "high-fiven" to the "blowin' up" of the union is the Taliban volunteer who thinks blowin' himself up will get him virgins. Bring on the SCABS!

Since: Oct 28, 2006
Posted on: November 19, 2011 9:21 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Sure, I believe that the players will really start their own league. I bet they'll all kick in their own money to get it started even though half of them are financially stretch out and the other half can't pay the half-dozen baby-mommas that are out there. What a weak ploy. They don't even draw for those cheesy scrimmages they throw. People want to see the L.A. Lakers and the N.Y. Knicks not the L.A. Slash and the N.Y. Subways. Make the deal and stop wasting everybodys time.

Since: Nov 14, 2011
Posted on: November 19, 2011 7:17 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Come on man lets have a season and all this would of could have has to end and this ego trip with the players and owners have to stop. This is big business and owners own and the players play and the coaches coach so lets get this thing resolved and get some B-Ball started!

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