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Expendable Owners? Replaceable League?

New NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts throws an elbow in the upcoming player negotiations.

Edited by Tiffany Villigan

A league of their own?
A league of their own?
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, the new Executive Director of the NBA Players Association threw her first elbow in the paint last week against the league office and owners of the NBA.

With a potential "lockout or walkout" looming in a couple of years, Michele Roberts said some interesting things in an interview with ESPN The Magazine.

"I don't know of any space other than the world of sports where there's this notion that we will artificially deflate what someone's able to make, just because," she said, talking about a salary cap -- a collectively bargained policy that, in its current form, has constrained team spending in the NBA since 1984-85. "It's incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it."

"Why don't we have the owners play half the games?" Roberts said, speaking in her Harlem office to ESPN The Magazine. "There would be no money if not for the players."

"Let's call it what it is. There. Would. Be. No. Money," she added, pausing for emphasis. "Thirty more owners can come in, and nothing will change. These guys [the players] go? The game will change. So let's stop pretending."

Her point is a simple one. The owners are expendable and players aren't. Her stance on future negotiations is even simpler. She's coming after the salary cap in all of its forms. She's coming after other sacred cows as well, but I'll let you read the article for that part.

She went on to say something even more intriguing.

So how has the NBA managed to successfully institute legislation that, in Roberts' view, is both opposed to this country's capitalistic principles and her players' best interests?

"No one wants to say it out loud, but it's a monopoly," she said. "And were there alternatives, they wouldn't get away with it."

If you watch the video on the same page as ESPN's article, you will hear Skip Bayless take that statement and the entire interview as a threat to start a competing league some day if the NBA doesn't make some pretty major concessions.

My natural reaction is to say that she's just playing the hardball negotiator and that she and the players would never dare to do such a thing. They don't have the will, the skill, or the resources to pull it off.

Skip Bayless has built such a high level of credibility with me (like most Seattle sports fans), however, that I'm taking this concept and running with it.

So come on, professional basketball players. Start your own league.


Call it the Continental Basketball Association.

In addition to paying homage to a now-defunct league that predated the NBA's existence, this name would also have a more international flavor to it, recognizing the existence of both Canada and Mexico.

It would also be deliciously ironic, in that the players would be rejecting one CBA in favor of another.


Since owners are unnecessary, maybe the players should simply own the league. There would be no more franchises, just geographically based organizations that are part of the league.

How do they distribute ownership and decide on salaries and allocate players? I don't really know or care. I'll leave that up to Michele Roberts. She seems like a pretty smart cookie.


For this to work, the superstars of professional basketball will have to take the mantra of the Musketeers completely to heart. Every big name player would have to come over. Solidarity.


In the interview, Roberts intimated that the players should get much more than a 50-50 split of the revenue from the newly signed TV deal. Since the entire premise of this is that you can make more money without the owners, you have to somehow co-opt that deal away from the NBA.

How are you going to do that? Offer the networks a 25% discount or something.


The league should begin with NBA rules, but the staff at Sonics Rising suggested the following rules changes.

Taylor Bartle: No more defensive 3 seconds or clear path fouls.

Kevin Nesgoda: Hand checking must be brought back.

Chris Meirose: Stockton-level short shorts.

Surprisingly, no one suggested abolishing sleeves and advertising on jerseys, but I'm sure this was just an oversight.


In the scenario below, the CBA would be organized into two conferences and existing NBA teams would carry over to the new league, with the following exceptions: Two new teams would be created, two teams would flip conferences, one team would change names, and one team would relocate and change names.

Cascadia Division North Atlantic Division
Golden State Warriors Boston Celtics
Portland Trail Blazers Brooklyn Nets
Sacramento Kings New York Knicks
Seattle Supersonics Toronto Raptors
Pacific Division South Atlantic Division
Los Angeles Clippers Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Lakers Charlotte Hornets
Las Vegas Gamblers Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns Orlando Magic
Northern Division Midwest Division
Denver Nuggets Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks Cleveland Cavaliers
Minnesota Timberwolves Detroit Pistons
Utah Jazz Indiana Pacers
Gulf Coast Division Central Atlantic Division
Dallas Mavericks Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets Kentucky Colonels
New Orleans Pelicans Washington Bullets
San Antonio Spurs Memphis Grizzlies


If the players got a wild hair and tried to do something like this, would that make you happy? What suggestions would you have?