Words by: Michael Tillery
Kobe and his peers would go from 40 Million Dollar Slaves to billionaire owners
First things first, rest in power forward professionalism Armen Gilliam. I hope we all go out doing something we have forever loved just the same…
Now…as basketball fans world wide brace for a NBA work stoppage, my agent/manager/brother/friend and I proposed a solution to end the lockout: Take the top 80 players and form a new league…the National Players Association…
Those who have frequented The Starting Five have a good idea we’re about talent benefiting the most from the hard work it takes to rise through the ranks of any respective field.
No one entity should benefit more than the talent itself.
Do athletes get enough of the pie? As Chris Rock says…and I’m paraphrasing… players are rich but owners are wealthy.
Players do you want to build your own legacy or continue to stuff the coffers of billionaires?
Despite proof in the contrary, the NBA is claiming league wide financial losses. Are all teams doing great? Of course not, but ownership seeks to financially capitalize more and pay the players less despite the preponderance of evidence suggesting some front offices fail to manage player transactions with common sense logic.
Since players are the physical source driving the league’s success, why shouldn’t financial gains more accurately reflect fruits of athletic labor? You hear all the time and might think yourself players make way too much money for playing a game but what about the owners? What about their greed and why are we so stuck in this 20th century industrial complex…loving and living everything corporate that wrestles power from the people anyway?
Since the NBA has chosen to lockout its most valuable commodity, this is a perfect opportunity for the players to make the NBA realize there is no league without the actual talent.
The players making up the league’s stars should have enough money to pool their diverse set of talents together. This is nothing radical. Instead of barnstorming overseas as some have alluded to, play here at home in America!
The fans want to see the game especially after such a riveting season. Putting the top 80 players together, fans would be privy to pseudo all star games every single night. Kids would lose their minds after games because so many stars would be available for autographs. Imagine the Christmas eyes highlighting a young child’s smile.
Just think how competitive this league would be…a virtual highlight reel…again…every single night.
Would the NBA have thrived this year without LeBron James? Love him or hate him, the economics behind The Decision cannot be questioned. Do you think LeBron pocketed as much money as he generated this season?
No. Hell no.
When Bosh, James and Wade decided to play together, my mind shot back to the summit in support of Muhammad Ali in 1967. This era is of a different and obviously more relaxed consciousness so of course the message varies, but the aim is the same…to establish more personal control over their livelihoods and again, cut out the middle man.
(Front row: Bill Russell, Ali, Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor). Back row: Mayor Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten)
Curt Flood also comes to mind and a serious challenge to the system is needed once again. Foundations should also be set up for those needing a helping hand. This isn’t just about the money. Charity events established with the sole aim of benefiting childhood education and better health would be a priority. Innovative ways of incorporating fan interaction would also help the NPA gain footing.
An executive committee would be formed…a sort of ambassadorial platform…giving past basketball greats the opportunity to influence a new generation of fans. Some examples of former stars are Oscar Robertson, Spencer Haywood, John Stockton, KC Jones, Tom Chambers and Detlef Schrempf. If the entire ’11-’12 season is squandered because of the NBA lockout, big money will potentially be forfeited by the NBA’s TV network partners just in ad revenue.
FOX Sports, if partnered with the NPA, would benefit tremendously. Nike has had a hand in creating great market brands for incoming stars, so this also would build their reach even more so. Solves the Adidas uniform contract and Spaulding basketball NBA deals. I love the Nike basketball anyway. There would be no cap (a great source on the NBA salary cap) or age limit.
How would this league be funded?
The top 24 stars (East and West All-Star Teams) invest 10 million each (on credit) to get the league up and running. 3 owners to a team and the NPA would be made up of cities not involved in the NBA. Corporate NBA partners will not be a part of the league…their competitors will (TV, apparel, transportation, concessions, equipment, etc.). Overseas markets will have games streamed at a $1.99 per game fee.
Teams would play 2 games a week either on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. No weekends. 6 month regular season. 48 games. Every team makes playoffs. As writer Sandy Dover very eloquently stated in a phone call this morning, “A move like this from the players would give the game back its purity.” Again, no middle man. The NBA is trying to eliminate agents with a rookie scale and a hard cap. Agents would be able to negotiate endorsement deals on the NPA players behalf.
Here are the cities followed by owners: Anaheim, California (West):
Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol
Las Vegas, Nevada (West):
Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love
Louisville, Kentucky (East):
Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
Kansas City, Missouri (West):
Derrick Rose, Joe Johnson and Joakim Noah
Newark, New Jersey (East):
Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (East):
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo
Tampa, Florida (East):
Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James
Vancouver, Canada (West):
Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Tyson Chandler The remaining 56 players would be selected in a draft taking place in Las Vegas. Of course Pittsburgh would pick Ray Allen. Every team gets a ping pong ball. Whoever picks last would go first in next round. A lottery determines draft order and would include lucky fans in each NPA city winning a to be determined online contest.
If orchestrated with intelligent and tempered professionalism, NBA players would clamor to play in the NPA. The players would police themselves because their money is at stake. The pool of remaining NBA players would replace unfortunate injuries.
Referees would have to go through a tryout process. Media credentials would be given out based on talent and nothing else. Bloggers and small publications would be considered the same as major outlets. There will be no entitlement.
Players would double investment in no time and banks would be paid back very quickly. The economy would get a much needed boost by the potential billions generated. Think of the jobs created by such a venture.
3 billion potential consumers in Africa, India and the rest of Asia in online views for a half a year season plus the NPA playoffs.
Let’s say the Total Revenue Income (TRI) is $2.4 billion. On a conservative consideration 300 million to each team in revenue. 150 million goes to original investors. The other goes to administrative services, expenses and other players.
So instead of the max players making 19 million, 50 million becomes their take home. There is a catch for the players…each NPA player would have to go through a training session with Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon to work on post moves. A “Dream Camp” if you will. Looking at you, LBJ and KD. Kobe and Dwight spent the summer with Dream and had great results.
Let’s talk about some other particulars…
TV Analyst: Gus Johnson Color commentary: Bob Costas The NPA logo would be the likeness of the player perfecting the most unstoppable shot in the history of the sport…the sky hook…
To be blunt, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hasn’t gotten a fair shake by the league. We will never know how great a coach he would have been a crazy 25 years after he retired. He’s a legendary icon who is one of sports most accomplished athletes and scholars. Absurd he didn’t get a serious shot to become a head coach. Whatever you need here Cap but for now, smile for the camera sir, and get this logo shine.
Who would be the commissioner you say? Bill Simmons would be a fair commissioner to advance the game forward based on his commitment and love for the game. After all, he did write a 750 page book on everything basketball. Like him or not, he’s actually one of the few writers challenging a mainstream perspective tired, exclusive and without intrigue…despite the Celtic green of his computer screen.
These numbers are conservative and are used simply to show the potential of what something like the NPA could accomplish globally.
To repeat…$2.4 billion divided by 8 NPA Teams. That’s $300 million per team. Owners/stars would get $50 million each in Total Revenue Income (TRI).
If the players go through with this commitment it will undoubtedly revolutionize sports.
A record 263 hopefuls to NBA D-League tryout camp. Good luck with that fellas. Owners the ball is your court. Sports fans. Get ready for the NPA.
National Players Association by Michael Tillery is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.