The NBA Re-Imagined; One RaptorsHQ Reader's Take on a New League

Would LeBron James and other stars be able to spearhead a "players-owned" NBA?


No NBA season?  One reader ponders what a different version of the NBA would look like, one that would be player-owned...

Yesterday on the site we posted a series of CBA discussions by one of our readers.  With the "nuclear winter" potentially setting in, we here at the HQ figured it would be good to talk a bit more about the labour process, and to that end, we bring another reader entry today.

Focused on the CBA it is not, but it's a very intriguing idea regarding a "new NBA" so to speak, presented to us by longtime HQ reader, HQ Interloper.  In his post, Interloper examines the idea of a "players run league," and the various logistics that would be involved.

Give it a read and give us your thoughts as we plan to compile them and others (hopefully from some NBA media) in giant post later on the topic...

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I consider myself a basketball fan, but my fandom has its limitations. I like basketball as it is played by NBA caliber players. Aesthetically it is the most pleasing to my senses, most resonant for my emotions. Of all the sports I follow, it is the one sport where I can watch and thoroughly enjoy a non-playoff game that doesn't involve my home team.

However, basketball as it is played by NBA caliber players is having a few problems at the moment, manifesting in a lockout that may or may not be over by the time you get around to reading this. Even if it does conclude, there will be disgruntled elements on both sides and it is not hard to imagine that a similar scenario will be revisited in the future when they have to negotiate again.  This leads to one question: does it have to be this way?

In the Internet Age there have existed many public projects that have resulted in significant innovations. Many of these projects started with a small group of individuals coming together to tackle a problem they were passionate about.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the professional basketball we've been passionate about for years has a problem, so would it be unreasonable to suggest that we come together to try to propose an alternative that in the end might leave us, the fans, better off?

Consider the following:

Basketball Re-Imagined

The Objective

To conceive a new model for a future professional basketball league that could potentially be player owned.

General Parameters

The parameters articulated are to serve as starting points for further conversation. As the public conversation continues, points will be revised to reflect the general consensus on what would be considered best practice. The hope is that fans of the game will be compelled to participate in a constructive manner that ultimately leads to a healthy, robust structure for a league where the best can play the highest quality basketball.

Team Considerations

1.       Players sign contracts with the league, not with particular teams. Every player is guaranteed the same, predetermined league standard base salary.

2.       At the end of each year, each of the thirty teams picks two players to be captain and co-captain, respectively.

3.       The teams are then dismantled completely, leaving only the captain and co-captain on the active roster.

4.       The captains go about filling their 15 player rosters via a draft, with draft order determined by lottery involving all thirty teams.

5.       Each draft year, NCAA and International rookies can declare and are eligible to be picked from the same pool of players that include non-captain veterans

6.       If a rookie is chosen in the draft, he will automatically receive the standard league contract.

7.       Draft order does not determine base contract amount

8.       After the player draft, with team rosters finalized,  a two hat lottery is conducted to match teams to cities for the upcoming year

9.       Cities do not have to be restricted to North America and can actually be anywhere on the globe willing to accommodate a full season of 30 home games, with the season consisting of 60 games in total.

10.   For a given year, a roster is final, with changes allowed only in the case of injuries

11.   An injured player can be replaced with any player from the undrafted pool of players

12.   Fully assembled teams hire coaches by consensus and the coach goes about filling his or her staff with a fixed budget and standard contracts

Performance Bonuses

13.   Each player is eligible for performance bonuses tied to team and individual performance, regardless of years in the league, the amount of bonus determined by an agreed upon formula - i.e. Wins Produced/PER/or some other novel formula.

14.   Coaches partake in the team performance bonuses

15.   The more successful a team is in a given year, the more substantial their bonus pool would be, thus making the good teams' players eligible for larger bonuses than players on poorly performing teams

Central Administration

16.   The League will have a Central Administration whose members are hired by the players via processes that take place at an Annual General Meeting.

17.   Central Administration sets the terms of the standard player contract, determines the schedule, negotiates national television deals and facility agreements in each home city, and deals with other aspects of league operations and common team operations, including hiring training and medical staffs, equipment managers, referees, and other in-game staff as necessary.

18.   A subset of Central Administration will be set up as a disciplinary committee that deals with player suspensions and fines for in-game and off court infractions detrimental to the image of the league.

Starting Points for a Revenue Model and Other Considerations

19.   The goal is to set this up as the most television friendly sports league in the world, so that it addresses the changing preferences of the sports viewing public.

20.   Initially, the majority of league revenues will be realized from national and local television contracts.

21.   Every game's tickets will be subject to a lottery system. Anyone interested in attending the game live will have to put up a nominal, non-refundable reservation fee. Anyone who pays the reservation fee has their name go into a draw for the available premium seating in a given facility.

22.   Those who get their names drawn get their pick of two premium seats at no extra charge beyond the reservation fee.

23.   The remainder of the seating is distributed to those on the reserve list not chosen for premium seating, in the order they appear on the list.

24.   In-game concessions go to the League, with concession service provided by a company (or companies) hired by Central Administration.

25.   Money from merchandise bearing a player's likeness is split between the player and league at agreed upon percentages

26.   Tickets would exist in digital form only and may be sold on a League run fan-transaction market, where the League gets a share of any money made by the fan in the resale transaction.

27.   After a game is played, its raw footage becomes available immediately online, with broadcaster audio removed. The footage becomes part of the public domain and is available for anyone to repackage or reproduce as they see fit, the goal being to capitalize on user generated content for promotional purposes.

28.   Pre-determined percentages of league revenues are set aside for a Players Pension Fund and a Players Medical Plan that will be available to all players who play in the league for at least X numbers of years.

29.   Full pension fund and medical plan disbursements will be made available to a player for the rest of his life, if he plays in the league for Y number of years.

30.    A portion of any profits realized in a given year are shared with active players with the remainder of profits reserved for ongoing league operations, additional pension fund deposits and medical plan contributions.

Where do we go from here?

Feedback! Mull over the first 30 points, dissecting and deconstructing as you wish, pointing out inconsistencies or potential conflicts. This should be considered public revision 1 of X, to be debated to the point where we might be able to come up with our own version of an unofficial/official rulebook.  It is admittedly imperfect but that is the point of what might evolve into a lengthy exercise.

It's your turn...

HQ Interloper

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