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Doug Robinson: NBA players starting a new league? Get serious

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 10:03 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Amare Stoudemire, the New York Knicks' star player, thinks he knows what the players can do if the upcoming NBA season is canceled. He and the other players have got it all figured out, and he wants you to know that he's "very, very serious" about it.

"If (the lockout doesn't) resolve then we're thinking about starting our own league," he says.

And thank you for continuing the players' fine tradition of making really stupid comments during NBA lockouts (please, see the '98 lockout when Kenny Anderson complained that he might have to sell one of his eight luxury cars to survive, and Pat Ewing's legendary quote, "Sure NBA players make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too.").

Stoudemire, just getting warmed up, continued: "If we don't go to Europe, then let's start our own league; that's how I see it," he said. "It's very, very serious."

Actually, this idea is so laughable and na?e that it's difficult to know where to begin.

Let's start with a comparison that maybe even the players can understand: Like them or not, NBA owners are to the business world what NBA players are to basketball. They're worth anywhere from $100 million to $5 billion. They are successful. They know how to game plan in the boardroom. Do NBA players think they can compete with these guys? It's the equivalent of Kobe Bryant going one-on-one with Mark Cuban on the basketball court.

Most players didn't finish college — or even start college. They don't know anything except basketball, especially when it comes to money, which is why 60 percent of NBA players reportedly go broke within five years after retirement.

They can't even handle their own finances, so why do they think they can run a billion-dollar business?

To listen to Stoudemire, though, starting a league is simple. "It's just a matter of us strategically coming up with a plan, a blueprint and putting it together," he said.

Right. And building a 747 is just a matter of us strategically coming up with a plan to slap some steel together with some wires and bolts and other stuff.

Stoudemire sounds like Bubba in "Forest Gump" when he is trying to convince Forest to join him in the shrimpin' business — "I got it all figured out, too. So many pounds of shrimp to pay off the boat, so many pounds for gas, we can just live right on the boat …"

The devil is in the details. Do Stoudemire and the other players — if there really are other players considering this idiotic idea — have any idea what they would be getting into? Does he realize he would have to build and finance the construction of arenas or convince politicians to build them with public funding? Is he prepared to negotiate broadcasting rights? Or player salaries? Can he sell tickets?

Who's going to do all this, his posse?

Stoudemire not only won't make more money, he'll probably make less. He might have to take a pay cut or work without pay for a time while getting the league off the ground, using some of his own cash to finance this venture. He would have to actually work for a living. He would have to work more than the two or three hours he spends at practice or the 82 nights he plays games. He couldn't spend his free time playing video games and rolling with his homies. He would have to have a real grown-up job. He would have to sacrifice and work and use his tiny, previously unused brain. He'd have to sit in an office and wear a suit and put in long hours.

He would have to — and this is the coup de grace — negotiate with players — guys like Stoudemire. That should be fun. Someday, he and the other player-owners will have to deal with player reps and player unions and precisely the same issues that are the cause of the current lockout: soft caps, hard caps, luxury taxes, division of revenue, and other considerations that promote parity.

The players don't realize how good they have it. What other business pays its employees 57 PERCENT OF ALL REVENUES!!! Not profits, but revenues. The answer is none. Nothing even close to that. They don't realize that the owners are supposed to make more money than the players because they're the ones who are incurring the risk when they finance teams and arenas. It's the way it works in the real world.

Not that any of this has occurred to Stoudemire. "So we'll see how this lockout goes," he told ESPN. "If it goes one or two years, then we've got to start our own league."

email: drob@desnews.com

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