The NBA currently has a loaded gun pointed toward their head with the hammer pulled back and the finger on the trigger. They haven’t pulled it yet, but they are extremely close to destroying everything that they have been building to bring the NBA back to the number two sport in the United States.
The lockout is on the horizon and the players do not want to budge, because the owners are still out there spending stupidly, but yet want to bring in a low, hard cap on the players.
Seems almost inevitable that this going to happen, isn’t it?
What if this happens though?
The two groups aren’t even in the same room, same city, or same country—right now I’d venture to say the NBA and players union aren’t even in the same universe, and are nowhere close even to attempt bridging the gap.
Sadly, both sides seem content to let this happen. Again I ask, what if this really happens?
My prediction is that if there is a lockout, then the NBA will die a very slow and painful death, and the United States and one city in Canada will be left without professional basketball. Well, outside the CBA and the WNBA, but we all know those don’t really count anyway.
Let’s just say that the lockout lasts a year—then what? Do the players try to go play overseas? Do they become ringers on rec league teams a la Eric Byrnes?
What does the NBA do? Just collect the $30M each from the television contract and just be content to save the money from not paying players?
I think most owners will look this way, especially with the economy and the predictions that it’s going to get worse, so the ticket revenue will be down, along with concessions and so on down the line.
In reality, if they do decide to be cheap, all the cheap owners (Heisley, Shinn, Bennett, Simon, etc.) will be more than content to sit out, save their dwindling fortunes, and just pocket the extra money.
While they rebuke the new CBA, the players will become more frustrated and the fans will be even more frustrated and most will be out—they will be done, they will want nothing to do with the NBA. It took almost a full decade for the NBA to recover from the last lockout and this one appears that it will be even nastier and longer.
The NHL currently thinks the NBA is stupid.
I could see the NBA coming back in the middle of the second year of the lockout or just starting the third. Tickets will be even more overpriced than they were this year and hotdogs will finally crack $10 and so on down the line.
The NBA will have completely priced out the normal fan and only the few corporate suits that show up a half too late will be at the games. They are there only to be seen, and it’ll be a lot easier to be seen with 15,000 empty seats right behind them.
The owners will could lose billions in this scenario and the NBA would have to contract or shut down all together, especially with all the dumb contracts that the owners signed players to this past offseason. Thank Joe Johnson, Amir Johnson, and Darko for the lockout, kiddies.
I am personally fine with the NBA shutting down and for North America as a whole to receive a new basketball federation—one headed internationally, one headed by FIBA.
Think about this for a second: FIBA governs numerous other clubs in leagues across the world and each of those leagues have a champion. We could have a potential real world champion and a Super Bowl-like event every June for professional basketball.
After the NBA collapses, all those players will then become free agents and if FIBA was smart, they would have a league waiting in the wings and ready to go in case of the collapse. They pick up the largest television markets and also the hotbeds of basketball in North America.
Los Angeles and New York would get two teams each and Donald Sterling would not be allowed to own either team—in fact, he is banned from FIBA to start with. Other cities receiving automatic teams would be San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Denver, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto, and Detroit.
I would also set up a subdivision of teams to mirror the league to start off with as well. These teams would work more or less as a minor league system or hold a second junior league, which I will get into a bit more later.
In July FIBA-North America would hold its first and only lottery. The lottery will be held to see who would get to draft the rights to certain players. There would be fifteen rounds and would work in a snake-like (think fantasy draft) fashion. Draft position would be selected randomly and each pick could take no more than two minutes; as soon as the buzzer dings and the pick is not in, you miss your pick.
The regular season would be cut down from 82 games a year to 50 games a year (25 home, 25 road) and the top eight teams, no matter the division standings or conference, would make the playoffs.
The teams would be seeded one through eight. First round would be five games, second and championship rounds would each be seven games. The winner of this tournament would be declared the North American champion and move on to play in a world tournament featuring the winners from Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and South America.
The World Championships would rotate on a yearly basis from continent to continent, much like our current Super Bowl system rotates from city to city. The teams would then play each other round robin for five straight days. The top two teams would earn first-round byes, while the other four teams match up by seed and start the first round of the knockout tournament.
The second round would start the next day, with the championship game being held the very next. This will test teamwork, endurance, and give us a true world champion in basketball every season.
While this is happening, back in the US, another tournament would be about to begin. The tournament would be a battle between all the teams in the junior league and all the teams that did not make the playoffs. This tournament would be set up like a modified NCAA tournament, except a lot faster and a lot more meaningful.
Rules would be that a 32-team tournament would be held following the completion of the North American Championship, where the 12 teams that did not make the playoffs would be mixed in with the 20 teams of the junior league to battle in a single elimination tournament.
This tournament would also be held on five consecutive days, with the winner of the tournament receiving the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. The final eight teams would be automatically guaranteed spots in the top league, while a tournament of the last eight teams would be held to find out who would be the last four teams in.
Complex, I know, but tell me, would you rather watch a league where every game meant something and where owners were forced to win, rather than gut a team and try to turn a buck?
Plus with all these basketball tournaments happening at once, you know you would be excited and you know the league wouldn’t be watered down. Just think of the super-team formed in Miami; could you imagine 19 other teams with three future Hall of Famers or all pros on their rosters?
I can and it makes me excited.