Do you have a Rasheed Wallace-sized hole in your heart? The newly formed Champions League wants to fill it.
The just-announced league is hoping to debut in summer 2016 and feature former NBA stars playing for 16 teams around the country. Former players associated with the league include former Detroit Pistons Wallace and Richard Hamilton and other NBA stars including Al Harrington, Brandon Roy and Maurice Ager.
There are a few things to be cautious of, chief among them being whether seeing aging former stars on the basketball court again is better in theory than in practice. Golf is incredibly difficult, but the physical demands of running up and down the basketball court are a lot different than the PGA's Senior, ahem, Champions Tour.
Per Sam Amick at USA Today, the league's chairman, Carl George, says he is hoping to provide family-friendly and affordable basketball entertainment during the summer dead zone.
The second worry is, of course, that these sorts of semi-professional sports leagues come and go like the seasons. There are high-profile flops like the XFL, but most often leagues are announced and sputter out without ever officially starting or with little attendance or fanfare. And that doesn't even include the countless people just trying to sucker others out of money.
Still, as described by George, the league seems sincere and above board. Here is how it is described in the USA Today piece:
- Sixteen teams to begin competing in the summer of 2016, with a strong preference for players who have competed in the NBA during the last three years. According to George, the New York team is already fully formed and includes former NBA players
Al Harrington, Rasheed Wallaceand Maurice Ager. Teams in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Orlando, Atlantaand Cleveland are up next, with the goal to employ approximately 250 players in all (170 on teams, others as player-coaches or in other roles). Each team would have two former NBA All-stars on the roster and a Hall of Famerin the front office. George said that 60 players have committed to this point, with many more "in the pipeline" while the subsequent teams are rolled out.
- Approximately 30 games to be played in July and August, with 10 charity/marketing events in non-NBA markets during the non-season months also included as part of a player's compensation package. On average, George said, players would make approximately $200,000 per year (for 80 or 90 days of work) in their pay structure if they take part in both the season and the charity events.
The strategy to attract the best-of-the-rest players is simple: provide a far better payday than the NBA's Development League (top tier approximately $25,000) while offering a more-comfortable alternative to the overseas route that can certainly lead to more money but that, inevitably, requires a life-changing relocation. Or, of course, some players who didn't have worthwhile NBA summer league invites in July could play in the D-League/overseas and the Champions League as a way to, in essence, double-dip. Flexible player contracts are a selling point here, and there's this added bonus that could surely improve the competition too: Division-winning players get a $50,000 raise, and championship tournament winners — it's a March Madness style tournament setup — would earn an extra $100,000 as well.
- Players prolonging their careers that are so often cut short, the businesses that provide the bankroll benefiting from their brands, and fans seeing quality basketball for $25 per ticket (there are no season ticket packages, but plenty of discount offerings for multiple-game packages).
tl;dr version: "Blah, blah blah blah, Rasheed Wallace back on a basketball court, blah, blah, blah, ball don't lie!"