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: Oct 16, 2010
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:53 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I know that many of the ball fans on here are massive fans of the players themselves and not so much the NBA.

Myself I am a Knicks fan and always will be REGARDLESS of who is playing for them.

Point being, the NBA NOT the players have all the control here!

Go start your own league? hahaha…. give me a break… have at it lads… fill your boots!

It will not succeed… everyone including the owners and David Stern know this!

The league holds ALL the power!

I have said it many times… if the NBA kicked ALL these players out and started again… within ONE season… new super stars and all stars would take the place of the bums who left… and even the MOST die hard player fan out there would not miss them!

Time for the players to realize the “GIFT” they have being able to play in the NBA and get back to playing ball!

Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:48 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I think billy hunter and herman cain should team up!

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:32 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa that was great

Since: Aug 25, 2011
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:52 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I would like to see these players attempt to form their own league....   What a joke it would be - another reason I am so glad that High School and College hoops has begun....    These current pro's could not make it through four years of college eduation, YET, they maintain they can form their own LEAGUE ????

I wonder what color is the sky in THEIR world ?????

Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:51 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Then, after the "league" couldn't repay the loan, Obama would insert himself as commissioner and borrow $15 trillion to meet payroll.

Since: Aug 14, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:44 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Who is going to pay them?

They will get a govt. bailout from Obama. It would only last them a week until they smoked and gambled it all away. 

Since: Sep 26, 2010
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:26 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Who is going to pay them?

Since: Sep 26, 2010
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:26 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

OMG!  Anyone that thinks the players could create a successful league is dreaming!  Not to take a side in this issue, but pretending that the players could form their own league (and be successful) is simply laughable!

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 11:56 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

If the players form their own league, or if a group of 24 rich boys get together and do it, the NBA would be crushed!  The billionaire NBA team owners would see the value of their teams drop to virtually worthless.  The one mistake the owners made was to back the players into a corner, for without players, a team is worth nothing.  I am all for it.  Bring back the ABA baby, red, white and blue ball and all !!!

Since: Jul 30, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2011 11:07 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Good move, Billy!  The threat of forming a new league gives the players leveage.  So did did taking legal action.  It's about time they stopped making concessions and playing hardball the way Stern and the owners have.  No more getting punked.

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