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: May 23, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:50 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

If the players formed their own league, does that mean the owners could proceed to re-form the NBA?  If so, and they decided to pay 12 players on each team $1 million dollars each, and then share revenue commensurate with number of minutes played or something like that, how long would it take for the new NBA to be a better than average post-college league?
If I was an NBA team owner and we got a chance to reboot, I would want to cap player salary well under $1 million per year.  I would suggest a modest base salary of $125,000 for rookies with annual increases of about 20% for each year a player has been in the league.  Everyone would be on the same pay scale with regard to base salary.  The differentiation would come in incentive pay.  There would be opportunities to boost income by performing better than your peers on a wide variety of metrics.  The league could establish guidelines and caps for incentive pay as well.  Team incentives would supercede individual incentives to discourage players from ball-hogging and show-boating.  However, there would also be a few incentives based on NBA fans polls.  This would encourage players to maintain a clean image off-court and to develop a sense of showmanship as well as competitiveness.  With this payscale, the NBA could dramatically reduce the price of tickets in the smaller markets and realize better profit margins.  Larger market teams would not have any advantage in attracting players from a "deep pockets" standpoint because all players would earn the same pay aside from the incentives.  Also, the league would establish a mandatory pension plan, and better medical benefits for retirees over the age of 50 (because athletes decline faster than most people and need more medical care).

I think a league like this would be better than the NBDL, but many of the elite players will probably go for the bigger paychecks overseas.

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:46 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

love to see these overrated idiots have to actually pay for  aleague instead of make millions and just play..then they would see how much of  apain in the a-- the owner shave when it comes to running a profitable league full of lebrick jame sis gonna put up any of his "brand" money to run a league

Since: Dec 15, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:23 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Whatever, life goes on with or without billion dollar basketball. I miss it but not as much as they think. They better realize that we don't need them and get this resolved by Christmas or else it (nba) will never be the same.

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:19 am

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Maybe they should form their own league sonthe players can learn how to operate a business. IT COSTS MONEY and they still need to arrange leases with each respective city (some arenas owned by owners not city). These idiots think a city will go into an agreement for a short term lease and probably believe they would do it for FREE. Keep dreaming and the thugs are idiots. Enjoy not collecting your paychecks fellas...the season is over.

Since: Apr 24, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:54 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Own league? What is this guy smoking?

He looks like a cabbage patch kid doll. 

Since: Mar 2, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:54 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

You got it dasme23:

"PLAYING basketball hardly makes them the slightest bit equipped to understand the business side of basketball."

These people went to college with a smaller IQ than my dumbest dog.  They didn't study or learn a darn thing.  They were paid (under the table) to play basketball and get a fake College Degree.  I doubt if 5% of the NBA players could make $75.000 a year in the free enterprise system with their so-called degrees. 

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:49 pm

Form Your Own League Now!!!

I have been saying this since before the lock out began.  They could find 24 rich boys out there that want to own their own pro sports franchises and have them foot the bill for the start up and do all of the organizing.  Once the owners have put all of this money up, then negotiate the collective bargaining agreement.  If they don't want to give a fair deal, then they are stuck for all of the costs they have laid out.  This could work and kill the rich frackers in the NBA who like to give ultimatums.

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:43 pm

Cities free of blackmail

at least cities are starting to see the light as far as how little income the games actually bring in. Perhaps now they'll see that a half B B B B Billion dollar stadium is too much to sacrafice for the sake of a silly team.

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:40 pm

or I might be just an idiot

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:39 pm

It could be done

Players form teams, hire coaches, and contract with cities to play in their arenas. The players are paid based on ticket sales, vending, parking, and dole out the cost of the arena employees including refs not bought and paid for by a corrupt NBA. Each player earns for that game based upon the team winning or losing, individual performance, combined with attending fans casting votes for effort, performance and the final input from the teammates. --- We'd see 100% effort 100% of the game and the players would respect the fans out of a direct connection of pay for perform. - Big markets would get more games (maybe) and certainly markets that sellout every game would get more as well (Hearing me Sactown?). The main thing being this: The players could care less about VIP boxes and suites if the fans fill the arena to cheer and watch a valid contest between two fairly officiated teams. p.s. - I'll be the commish for the league's minimum salaried player equivalent.

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