NBA Lockout: Don't Sign a Deal; Make a New League
The players standing with their union reps to say no to the latest CBA offer.
The NBA players rejected the last offer from the owners, putting the entire 2011-12 NBA season in jeopardy.
A large number of players, including Kobe Bryant, stood together and announced that they rejected the offer. Both sides knew that the NBA season was basically on the line.
This is the league's second major labor dispute in the past dozen years.
Early in this lockout, New York Knicks center Amare Stoudemire said that if the lockout lasted too long, the players would have to consider starting their own league. No one seemed to take him too seriously.
Charles Barkley said that was the dumbest thing he had ever heard.
My boys at the local brewery felt the exact same way. “Man…that just ain't gonna work,” they said matter-of-factly.
But why is the idea of a player-owned basketball league really that unrealistic? They are the ones that actually go out and play the game!
The fans certainly don’t come to see the owners in the suites.
Perhaps this is the time that players should come together, pool their resources and invest in a league of their own.
Guys might have to come to realize if you sacrifice the jewels, be creative and consolidate - you can own the jewelry store.
HBO's Bryant Gumbel came under fire for comparing NBA commissioner David Stern to a plantation overseer who treats the men in the National Basketball Association like boys.
Think what you want about that; the flip side is that the men in the NBA do tend to have a "plantation mentality"—a worker's mentality.
Perhaps this lockout situation will alert them that it is time that they think in terms of ownership.
If the players and former players would come together and pool their resources, they would have a lot of capital and all of the talent and personality to OWN and operate their own basketball league.
The huge contracts of the current NBA would have to be sacrificed. That would mean guys under current NBA contracts, scheduled to make millions over the next few years, would have to let them go as the players would decertify.
A total of $2 billion in player salaries.
These guys are used to living rich with lavish lifestyles. Big houses, cars and toys—it is not a secret that people in the league are balling! Which also means big bills. In fact, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith stated on First Take that he thinks that the players will cave in soon because the guys will eventually miss that paycheck too much.
That may be true—although the players currently seem to be in unison. But we will have to see what happens after a month or two without checks.
But again, players are the sole reason that the NBA is the global game that it is right now. No one could name me half of the owners in the NBA right now—but you know decades of players.
This is not years ago, when player were making just hundreds of thousands of dollars. The NBA has quite a number of real millionaires.
The millionaires are in a labor dispute with some billionaire owners. Bosses.
Well there you see the plantation mentality manifest itself. If a bunch of millionaires with all the talent would work together to create their own thing, they could BECOME the billionaires—instead of being forced to negotiate with them.
Then, instead of fretting over a $2 billion slice of the pie, they can own all of the pie and slice it how they want—leaving the owners with pie faces.
The 1946-7 Celtics - in the days before crossovers and high flyers.
The NBA started in 1946, some 65 years ago. Professional basketball was not the exciting and wildly popular game that it is today.
The league faced competition when the rival American Basketball Association (ABA) started with a more entertaining, high-scoring version of pro ball. Some of the top NBA guys crossed over to the ABA.
In 1979, the leagues merged and the NBA absorbed four ABA franchises to join it's 18 teams. The NBA added the three-point line from the ABA to open the game up. That same year Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird were drafted and went on to create the defining rivalry of the league.
Since then the game has grown into the global industry that it is today.
A new players league might take a little while to get off of the ground. But there would no doubt be a demand for it. Fans will always want to see the game played at it's highest level.
Take Advantage of the Huge Market Which Already Exists
The players are the business. They can find a way to capitalize on and own their talent more completely.
The sports landscape of today's world is much different than it was when the NBA started. This is not 1946! Now you have 17 ESPN channels and the NBA has several networks, too.
The great majority of that success and popularity is due to the God-given talent of the men on the court.
Not only could they own the league—they should own the league. It only makes sense.
That would be a fitting way to respect the legacy of the past generation of athletes who paved the way for this global industry but never got to reap the benefits and huge contracts.
People pay to come and see the players. So the players can go somewhere else and put on their own show. There is absolutely no reason to think that the fans will not follow.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter provide free and easy marketing tools that could help promote a new professional basketball league.
This seems like a logical step in the evolution of professional basketball.
Take Lessons from the Music Industry
It is great to sign good deal - but how much greater is it to OWN your own label?
NBA players need to take a cue from their peers in the music business. These days, hip-hop artists, whose music is played in all NBA arenas to excite the crowds, have taken more control over their art.
For many years, the goal of the aspiring artist was to sign a deal with a major record label. That was considered "making it."
After many years, the artists realized that they were only getting tiny portions of the money that their art actually produced. Their talents were being exploited by the company and industry.
So they took a different approach and they were no longer content to sign deals. They began to get together and start their own record labels!
They recognized that they were the ones that made the songs and they could do the same thing the labels were doing to capitalize upon their own talents.
It was a natural growth process.
Maybe it is time for the players to play the other side as well. Their talents have been exploited by the National Basketball Association for many years.
Miami’s Big Three is a threat to the current league in more ways than one. Not only does it create a "superpower" team, but it also shows that guys are willing to work together and control their own careers.
Hopefully that is a seed that will grow.
How You Know They Can Make It Work
The game has changed. The face of the game should change as well!
It would probably take a year to get the logistics and schedule of a new league worked out. But it looks like the lockout will last the entire season anyway. Instead of waiting to resume negotiations, the players can be meeting about starting a revolutionary league of their own!
The AND1 Mixtape Tour was able to have some success for several years. The tour was quite popular, landing some big name sponsors—it even had a show on ESPN2.
Of course, they weren’t generating anything close to the revenue that the NBA brings—but they did make something.
If the big-name NBA players created a more organized version of that, it would certainly survive and very soon thrive. They could start by renting and filling mid-size arenas and look forward to continued growth.
There won’t be nearly as much revenue initially, but the difference is the players would control all of it! Eventually, the interest and money will grow exponentially.
It would not take any time at all for the ESPN's and TNT's to make huge television deals with that league. Sponsors would be lining up, immediately smelling the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.
Video gaming and apparel companies would want to secure licensing agreements. All of that adds to the value and revenue of the league.
The players should be benefiting from all of that—because they are the ones that generate all of the business. Without them, there is no show.
It would not take long at all before that league is just as successful and popular as the NBA was before this lockout. If not more.