Pro Basketball: Time for a Competing Professional League in North America

Phil CaldwellCorrespondent IIIFebruary 16, 2011

This past week the hated and detested commissioner of professional basketball, one pompous David Joel Stern, mentioned on ESPN’s Bill Simmon’s radio show that he “had regrets” about how both the Vancouver Grizzlies and Seattle Supersonics situation went down.

And yet before any tears wandered down the average fan’s chubby little cheeks, giddy with gratitude, folks in the northwest wondered how the one person who single-handedly ruined the markets of an entire region, could now expect those same people to take him seriously? 

It was like listening to a used car salesman try to sell a recently-stiffed customer another dented heap with a bad muffler. 

Not to be cruel, but Mr. Stern clearly still does not “get it.”

He still did not admit, for instance, his own blatant lies about Seattle’s support of its team while attempting to justify reasons for moving it. Nor did he mention how the NBA showed no loyalty back whatsoever, towards a fan base with four decades of demonstrated crazed passion. 

What should Mr. Stern have said?

Well for starters, he could have apologized for his own inaccurate accusations, where he claimed a city that had just built a brand new NBA palace was somehow in the wrong for refusing to build another new palace less than a decade later!  

Or perhaps he could have mentioned the NBA's attempt to break the lease, that his league used to get the building built in the first place! 

So David Stern now has regrets?  Why would any NW NBA fan care about this?

Vancouver’s glittering show last year for the Olympic Winter Games, probably didn't help Stern's happy meter either. Multiple packed arenas melted ear drums, by Vancouver fans for foreign teams they hardly knew, as they battled for hockey supremacy. 

The same fans that the NBA claimed would not support a basketball franchise, were lining the sidelines of everything from snow skiing to ice curling.  Clearly the commissioner was either lying about this too, or had seriously misunderstood the problems in Vancouver like he did in Seattle.

And to make matters worse, another professional sports league seized the opportunity left wide open in the abandoned Northwest.  Major League Soccer not only recognized the potential rivalry games offered between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, but planted three new expansion franchises with plans to showcase these historical rivalries in nationally televised games.

Seattle has astounded the world soccer community with sold out stadiums, for a second tier sport,  demonstrating that Northwest fans are the best in the nation for supporting their teams! 

And all this just months after David Stern and his band of nitwits, moved an established team to the sticks, claiming support issues.

You would think the absurdity of all of this might render the beloved commissioner a bit less arrogant!  And yet here was Mr. Stern on ESPN, scolding the interviewer for asking obvious questions of the esteemed commissioner.

It was enough to make the most devoted NBA fan scowl with mockery. What on earth is wrong with this man!?

And now several years after all of this, with the same cities fighting painful budget cuts for essential services due to a depressed economy, Mr Stern is still arguing that new billion dollar arenas should be built in the very cities the NBA stiffed. 

A league with severe fiscal issues due to paying mediocre players like former-Sonic Rashard Lewis over $20 million per season, expects tax payers to bail them out?  Why would liberated cities jump back in bed with an unstable league that did this to them?

Clearly David Stern does not understand how disgusted Northwest fans are with him or his league! 

In fact Mr Stern probably aught to be more concerned with the huge opportunity his league left two dozen major markets across the nation. No other major sport has as many open sports facilities without teams, courtesy of a bumbling basketball league.

Arenas already-built, empty and draining city funds, are desperate for new tenants.  

Rather than threatening cities that already are bitter about how they were treated by the NBA, perhaps a better course would be concern that these same abandoned cities don't start their own basketball league that would compete with the NBA. 

One that is better-behaved, better run, and more fiscally responsible!

FIFA, the world soccer moderator, claims that the best size for a professional sports leagues is from 18-24 teams. More than that is too large. Great news for a new potential basketball conference interested in balanced scheduling! 

With all these open markets, a new league could look something like the below:

Western Conference

1)        Vancouver

2)        Seattle

3)        San Jose

4)        Anaheim

5)        Riverside

6)        Long Beach

7)        San Diego

8)        Las Vegas

Central Division

9)       St Louis

10)     Kansas City

11)     Pittsburgh

12)     Baltimore

13)     Lincoln

14)     Montreal

15)     Cincinnati

16)     Kentucky

17)     Chicago (south side)

18)     Chicago (north side)

Eastern Division

19)     Louisville

20)     Tampa Bay

21)     Jacksonville

22)     Connecticut

23)     New Jersey

24)     Long Island, NY

25)     Buffalo

26)     Edmonton

27)     Birmingham

Obviously these are not the sum total of all the potential open markets, nor are they particularly the best markets. They are merely listed to show the potential of how many markets currently are without teams.

What does this mean? 

Simply that the conditions are ripe for a new league. With angry fans vowing they are finished with the NBA, furious over how they have been treated, and cities with empty buildings in a fledgling economy, why not start a new professional league?  It would solve fiscal problems for cities fed up with the NBA.  

Most of the potential open markets have long since demonstrated capacity for supporting professional sports. Furthermore, the NBA has proven that moderate markets could work, especially if the league was actally fiscally disciplined with player salaries. 

Considering how poorly run the NBA has been over the past 20 years, and considering how out-of-control the NBA’s salary structure is, a new league might very well out-survive the NBA!  It could be the last man standing in a dozen years.

New ideas might make a new league cutting-edge, replacing older leagues with unsolvable problems.

Could cities, or fan bases, own the teams rather than millionaire owners? Could they be structured like the Green Bay Packers, with stock sold and team leaders voted in and out?

With lockouts looming and the NBA threatening contraction, if there was ever a time for a new league with a fresh approach to professional sports, the time is NOW!

For more information, be sure to watch the superb documentary at:

Read part one - Seattle and The Ironic Message Sent By The NBA by Phil Caldwell October 5, 2010, at:

Read part three - NBA's Financial Situation: David Stern's Conflicting Message About the Thunder


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