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: Aug 4, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 8:03 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

If Billy Hunter and the players really think they can make the same quality of living by forming their own league...then have at it. Most people enjoy college basketball far more than the most fan circles, a cancelled NBA season will be nothing more than a minor disappointment. So go for it players...form your own league, play overseas...everyone knows you enjoy the good life far too much to ever seriously consider those moves. You are fooling no one, most of all the NBA team owners.

Since: Mar 20, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 8:02 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Ya good idea..  Good luck with that..  What a bunch of clowns

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:55 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

The title of this article says all you need to know about why the NBA Players Association is in the position it now finds itself.  Any union leader who makes a statement like that isn't worth sh_t.  The owners are billionaire businessmen with literally millions to spend on the best legal advice money can buy and the players are led by this cementhead.  Rediculous.

I'll stick with my view of this season...  completely bust this union and bring some financial sanity back into this league.  Until then, let the players ROT.

Since: Dec 15, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:45 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I say they should just shut up and do it. Start their own league or get jobs at wallmart, they'd be awful handy getting stuff from the top shelf

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:43 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

HA HA  Billy is smoking weed.

Since: Apr 13, 2011
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:40 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

I just don't get it, they want to start there own league because they're ready to play ball, but they've had plenty opportunities to play ball, they could be playing now if they weren't so money hungry, so to go out and TRY to start your own league would be "DUMB"..... I say cancel the entire season, I'm sick and tired of this nonsense.

Since: Jul 8, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:25 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Hunter should truly end up in the unemployment line for comments like that. So let's think this through. The players start their own league and risk their own money or try and convince other investors to risk theirs vs. Accepting a deal that guarantees billions of dollars over the next ten years?? The players have reached a new level of ineptitude. The owners should now offer a new deal even more in their favor each week this goes on.

Since: Apr 10, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:21 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Ok, really, who's going to pay the salary of you guys? yourselves? and who is going to watch? not me, I would watch a new NBA league with new players coming in with the salary not so high and ticket prices not as high rather than over payed player that can't shoot the BB and are all about themselves. Plus I still have College Basketball, which is way better anyways. Even if they get this thing figured out watch how many fans show up, fans are pissed and they all have taken the owners side.

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:15 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Three words for Billy Hunter....Bring it on!

Since: Apr 11, 2007
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:13 pm

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

 ... and you wonder why the NBA strike is still on??

Really Hunter ... really, OK, so literally 10 years from now let's say the player/owners have another CBA, if your the Chief of that Union, in theory your going to fight amongst the owners against the players who are also owners????

Just open up the NBA doors, let the players decide who they want to play for right now already ... i can see the picket line destroyed mighty quickly from players who want to get PAID well and Billy Hunter, out of a job

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