Skip to content

Billy Hunter thinks maybe players could form their own league

Nov 17, 2011, 12:07 PM EDT

NBPA Meet To Discuss Current CBA Offer Getty Images

After watching (and at times attending) the summer of pro/ams and charity games, I’ve become more convinced than ever that the players need the NBA, too. They need the marketing, the building, the ability to create a professional event — the league builds the stage the players are on. Their relationship is symbiotic.

Throughout the lockout there has been talk that the players should just form their own league. Wednesday night Billy Hunter, director of the players union trade association, jumped on board during an event where he was speaking with NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith.

Author and MSNBC guy Toure was there and tweeted out quotes (hat tip to SLAM, who helped put Hunter’s quotes this into a cohesive form).

“Maybe we can start our own league. There are faculties where we can do that. Can’t play at MSG but can play at St John’s.” … There’s talk of getting a TV deal and creating a new league but it’d have to be with a network that’s unafraid to cross the NBA.”

“The owners are scared of LeBron style movement and want to keep players wedded to franchises … The players’ decision to blow up the union was unanimous. They were high-fiving, sayin let’s get it on!”

“The season is not yet on life support. There’s still time to put on an abbreviated season.”

As we’ve covered today, I agree that the owners want to squash LeBron James style player movement. That’s part of why we are here.

But the players do not have the money to start their own league and there is nobody who can build a stage for their talents like the NBA can. Are television networks not going to cross David Stern and the NBA? Yes, but only because they question the viability of said league and product they would get for their troubles. We’ve seen the summer leagues and their lack of defense, is that what it looks like? Entertaining for a night, but not sustainable for a league.

The players need the owners and the NBA. The owners need the players. Which is what makes this sad. Let’s hope Hunter is right and the season is not on life support, although it’s certainly not looking too good right now.

  1. sguy2130 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    It’s sad when you have trolls like this advising the players. Hunter just wants to keep the lockout going to keep getting paid, you can’t trust him.

    There is no conceivable way the players could set up their own league that would come anywhere near bringing in the type of revenue the NBA does.

    Let’s see……. play in the NBA and take less money than you want…or play in your new league where maybe you will make 10% of what the NBA pays just to prove a point. Sounds like a great plan.

    • jmoney1289 - Nov 18, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      Why wouldn’t it bring in revenue? The players are the one’s that bring it in. A player-owned league would get 100% of the revenue. And the players could set up the league the same way the owners run the NBA now, by hiring people to run the business end of it.

      It might take a while to establish, but the players make the league.

  2. mjbulls45 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM


    but we like rivalries like celts – lakes, mavs – heat , etc….

    we like our NBA teams and players on them,

    its the same reason why the NBA doesnt use replacement players, instead of kobe , they replaced him with mateen cleeves ( no disrespect – u get the point, i like cleeves and other NCAA stars as much as NBA stars)

    as a die-hard NBAer and NFLer, I will say this…

    lockout isnt a HUGE deal because the NFL and NCAA Football is at its peak in the season right now,

    as more and more teams begin to fall out of the playoff hunts , fans in cities will begin to turn to the NBA teams for their sports fun….

    usually after new years… is when the NBA will really kick in followed by the All-Star game in Feb , hunt for the playoffs in March, and playoffs in April – May , finals in June…

  3. rdssc - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Google, Microsoft, Sony all have the ability to stream games through their technology and invest big cash to get the infrastructure and league set up. The short term return on their investment comes from the sale of technology not the games themselves. Allowing the Players to see a larger % of the BRI after all expenses we removed. If every basketball fan was forced to purchase a YouTube Subscription, XBox or PS3 to watch Lebron James, Kobe, or Wade those companies would make billions of dollars off their investment.

    • eaglessuperfan - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:22 PM

      So Google, Microsoft, and Sony are going to pony up cash for players that deserted a already well established league? I don’t think they had so much success doing things that are that dumb.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:28 PM

        Who the heck is going to pay to see meaningless basketball games? If I need basketball that badly, I can wait until march and get all the NCAA I need…. For free

    • hail2tharedskins - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:06 PM

      Microsoft??? Now that is funny! Didn’t think that one through to well did ya? Do you know who the co-founder of Microsoft is? The guy who controls the second most shares? Here’s a clue for you… he happens to own an NBA franchise! I happen to think a players’ league is a non-starter, but certainly Microsoft will would have no part in even if it were viable.

      • jmoney1289 - Nov 18, 2011 at 5:57 PM

        They’d have deeper pockets than the owners do….they’d have ALL the revenue. And if the players did start a league, why do you think players would bolt back to the old NBA? Without the stars, where would the owners come up with the $$ to compete? And why would players want to go back to a league where they have to give 50% (or more) of what their talents bring in to owners? A new league would definitely be a players league.

        There’d be plenty of financing for a new league of the best players in the world. Maybe then the other professional sports leagues would realize owners aren’t necessary, also.

      • jmoney1289 - Nov 18, 2011 at 6:01 PM

        If the money is there…and it would be…any of those companies would be willing to cash in, even Microsoft, because the NBA would become non-viable. Plenty of TV people, too. There were other leagues before the one’s we watch in pro sports now. If it catches on financially, everyone will want a piece. And a player-owned league would take ALL the best players.

  4. echech88 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Ya, because the players totally have the experience and know-how with their 12 months of college education to negotiate favorable TV deals, build arenas, finance arenas, sell tickets, market the team, attract corporate sponsors, sign favorable licensing deals, expand internationally, legally protect themselves against lawsuits, coordinate travel and scheduling logistics…

    Maybe they SHOULD try this and see how much money it would take for them to hire capable people to do this for them to realize the league actually does exist for something besides writing checks.

  5. lltony - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Not a bad idea to look at but it would be sad to see all the great players from he past hard work , drop just for the sake of egos of players and owners.
    However there are other billionaire that could look at this as an opportunity and seeing how much revenue that could be had, can then put their name in the basket in support of a new league.It would take a while, but with today technology this would be a revolution. Maybe it would be a better structured league and the players and owner would not be the only one to see success but us the FANS…maybe like GREENBAY PACKERS we the fans can buy shares in a team and share some of the revenue. Giving some back to fans who have been so dedicated to the sport would be NICE.

    Just a thought…………..

  6. seanb20124 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    Remember when Tiger was thinking about starting a breakaway golf tour?

    • bcjim - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:37 PM

      Uh, no.

  7. skids003 - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Start their own league?? That’s the funnyist crap I’ve heard all month.. They can’t even run structured offenses, how are they going to run their own league??? Hahahaha.

  8. greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    How are these players going to afford to start this up. 2 mortgage payments, 4 car loans, yacht payments, property taxes, and whatever else the need to pay.

    Heck Spreewell couldn’t feed his family with 10 million.

    Their “savings” will be gone shortly and will be forced to cave in.

  9. bcjim - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Awesome. They are going to be back begging to work for half of what they could have taken last week.

    Go Owners!

  10. bcb1999 - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Billy Hunter bringing the lulz…

    Who are they expecting to finance this league? Presumably they would want to be paid what they would have been paid in the NBA, otherwise why not just take the deal on the table and play with your actual team?

    In reality, the hardcore basketball fans are fans of their team…they’ll like you as long as you’re helping their team win, but cross them and they will hate you for all eternity (hello, Bron Bron). Players come and go, but the team remains (unless you’re in Sacramento, I guess)…

    • jmoney1289 - Nov 18, 2011 at 5:44 PM

      And the owners do?! The players would do exactly like the owners do now…hire experienced people to run the business. It wouldn’t take more money than it takes the owners now, using the money the players bring in for them. In their own league, the players wouldn’t need to split revenue with anyone.

  11. lltony - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Remember this folks, without David the Stern monitoring and dictating every thing there are billionaires out there that have the ability to start a new league… With probably better structured contracts and revenue sharing for owners players and fans…

    • echech88 - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:28 PM

      guy who thought the UFL and XFL were awesome.

      • jmoney1289 - Nov 18, 2011 at 5:45 PM

        UFL and XFL didn’t have the players…a player-owned league would have ALL the stars.

  12. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    “The players’ decision to blow up the union was unanimous. They were high-fiving, sayin let’s get it on!”

    Instead of going into this with some regret and feeling bad about what it is doing for the 2011-2012 season, the players are high-fiving? No matter which side you are on, this is pretty sad.

  13. ogre2010 - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    That would be a fun (any funny) league to see.

  14. eazye76 - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    I would rather watch the reruns of old playoff games that NBA TV is showing right now instead of some sort of faux NBA.

  15. buckifan4life - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Yeah,…and THAT wouldn’t be chaotic.

    Owners: Stick to your guns and just wait. Billy boy Hunter will have the players yelling at him soon enough…

  16. mogogo1 - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    Billy Hunter has done more damage to the players than the owners. Will the players ever figure out how much money this fool has cost them?

    Sure, the players COULD form their own league. And if things went extremely smoothly, in maybe 2-3 years they’d actually be ready to play their first game–assuming they obtained the deep pockets financing required just to start it up, landed a major TV deal which is the only way there’d be any shot at turning a profit, and ironed out the pesky logistics like figuring out where to play games, forming teams, finding coaches, etc. Too bad many of the players would be bankrupt or on the verge of it by then. And best of luck keeping the NBA from restarting play and stealing most of the better players back by offering tons more money than the startup league could afford to pay.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (2158)
  2. D. Rose (2139)
  3. K. Bryant (1849)
  4. K. Irving (1754)
  5. J. Smith (1662)
  1. T. Thompson (1551)
  2. A. Davis (1541)
  3. T. Wroten (1409)
  4. J. Embiid (1348)
  5. K. Durant (1322)