NBA Lockout: New League? Don't Count On It

Shortly after NBA commissioner David Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire first said he wanted to go and play in Europe. Then he quickly changed course, saying the players should form their own league if the lockout went on too long.

Stoudemire was backed up by teammate Carmelo Anthony, who said a new league is "very possible" with Nike as a possible sponsor.

"At the end of the day, with all the guys Nike and the Jordan Brand have, they are very powerful," Anthony said.  "If we was to come to them and ask them, we're pretty sure they'd be into it."

In theory, this sounds like a nice way for the locked out players to stick it to the owners.  Line up some investors -- Nike or anyone else with money to burn and a product to market -- to bank roll a handful of star-studded teams and put together a league that could show the owners the players don't need them as much as they think.

Except that the players do need the owners.

If you've ever been to any non-NBA summer league game, you know just how tall of a task any sort of "rogue league" would be to get off the ground.

Even if you got Nike to put up enough money to actually pay stars like Anthony what they would need to be happy, the other shoe companies wouldn't allow their players to play in games that is named after their competitor. So right off the bat you would cut the possible pool of players in half.

Then there is getting players to show up -- physically and mentally -- for every game. The rosters for these All-Star exhibitions have been fluid at best and the guys that need the money the least -- like Anthony and Stoudemire -- would never play in ever game and if they did it would be at three-quarters speed most of the time.

The occasional novelty game is fun, but the type of competitive environment that comes along with them would never produce a viable league.

Anthony, Stoudemire and any other All-Star can talk about playing in Europe, starting a new league here in the states or practicing on Mars. It won't change the fact that the only place that is going to provide the highest level of competition with the most fans and the biggest pay day is the NBA.

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