Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
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: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 19, 2011 12:47 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Billy Hunter starts off by saying the players could start their own league, and then provides us with 2 good reasons why that would never happen.  One, they won't have access to most of the venues the NBA currently uses for their games.  And two, and most importantly is what television network is going to piss off the NBA?   I guarantee you the second it becomes public that a network out there even spoke to the union or a player about supporting them in any way, that network would never see another NBA deal again.  

Remember, tv networks bid on contracts for the right to air NBA games, NHL games, NFL games, MLB, etc   It's not the other way around... it's not the NBA begging them, it's the other way around.    Most of the major networks want a deal with the NBA,,,, this would be a good way to guarantee the NBA never does business with them again.

The only way any tv network would ever speak to the players or union about a new league is if and only if the NBA went bankrupt. And even then if the owners started a new league the networks would follow the owners long before they think about a deal with the players.

I'll say it again... the players are SCREWED..... 

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 10:49 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Billy Knight is an idiot if he thinks this silly posturing actually impacts the negotiations.  The chance of the players forming their own successful league is roughly the same as the league opening a franchise in Antarctica.  Never going to happen and anyone thinking so really fails to understand the capital it takes to undertake such a thing. 

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 10:03 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Really hilarious. These guys cannot even balance their checkbooks, much less form their own league. Starting a real league would take a long time to do for experienced owners, much less spoiled, uneducated, pampered athletes. More than likely, the season will never happen this year, the owners may as well look out for their long term success at this point. Blame a big part of this on James, Wade, and company trying to determine the fate of the NBA Championship. Mistake. Owners worth millions or billions of dollars will not let hoodlums like these guys control their investments, so all will pay. If the players refuse to eventually settle, perhaps the elimination of guaranteed contracts will be the next thing to go. We can hope.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:57 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Sorry, these guys can't get together to stage a charity event, then the world tour fell apart. These are simply false threats (or pipe dreams) meant to gain leverage in the negotiations and no one will bite on it. The most likely scenario is that many will sing on to play overseas. The union will re-certify and the players that come back will play for a CBA much worse than the last one on the table. Any way you look at it, if these guys don't get serious about doing what it takes to get the season going soon, they will be coming back to much less when the money gets tight and for the rookies that have never got a fat paycheck, that day will be very soon.

Since: Oct 24, 2011
Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:51 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

They can form their own league if they want.  It would be an utter disaster in my opinion.  These guys think just because they play basketball professionally that they can learn how to build a successful league.  No chance in hell they could pull it off.  I would probably enjoy watchin that debacle.  Its amazing how easy the MLB talks went and even the NFL got it done just in time.  This just makes me laugh.  Let the season be over already!!

Since: Aug 1, 2011
Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:51 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Go figure.   Who the heck do they think is going to pay them?   I haven't heard of a single "Celebrity All-Star game" being free and those games are just for show with attendance maxing out around 4 - 6000.   These guys need a filter between their brains and mouths so that they don't keep saying things that make them appear dumber than dirt and totally out of touch with reality.

Since: Mar 16, 2010
Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:39 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Yes you will watch. We all have college degrees. How many of us can do what these athletes do?

Since: Nov 18, 2011
Posted on: November 18, 2011 5:47 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

i would luv 2 c them form there own league do they really think there gonna make the millions that they r throwing away now not a shot in hell sorry guys all of u r just ungrateful people making millions and millions 2 play a sport that evry1 loves 2 play take what u get and b happy with it

Since: Jun 9, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:24 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Dear NBA owners,

I am a Philadelphia 76ERS fan. In my opinion, we already have NO SUPERSTARS. I don't care if you start over with ALL NEW PLAYERS. Players from Europe, South America, shoot, even kids from the hood that never got a shot. I just want to watch a Philadelphia basketball team, WITH NO-ONE ON IT MAKING MORE THAN $5 Million per year! I work by tail off, with a college degree, and I can't even afford decent tickets to a game let alone a family night at the stadium including snacks. If the team represents ME, than they don't need to make more than that. HOLD ON STRONG AND DON'T GIVE IN! 

P.S to MLB (major league baseball)- I will never watch any baseball again if Albert Pujols signs for $200 Million. I WILL NOT WATCH IF HE, OR ANY PLAYER IS GIVEN MORE THAN $5 MILLION PER YEAR. TRUST ME I WON'T WATCH. AND I LOVE THE PHILLIES! But I don't respect them.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:11 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

WHY do the players think they should get more of the profit than the OWNERS.  They are givin million dollar wages and a awesome retirement, and they take NO risk.  Owners lose money the players still get OVER PAID.  While Owners just lose. Settle already!!  And be happy your getting millions to play a game and don't have to work!!!!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or