Over the past few weeks, there's been plenty of debate about what players should in the event of an NBA Lockout. But none quite as crazy—and obvious, when you think about it—as this idea from Ryan Jones at Slamonline.
You start setting this up now, too, because the point is pressure. The point is saying to the owners, "You think you have all the leverage and can outlast us. Here’s how wrong you are." You schedule this just like Cirque du Soleil or Katy Perry or Taylor Swift do, months in advance, so that every one of these gyms is sold out before you ever hit town.
You get 20 or 30 of the top 50 or 75 guys in the NBA, and you put together a tour, and you sell out gyms all over the country, letting Bron and Wade and Dirk make kids smile. And you get paid—maybe not what you’re usually paid, but more than enough to justify it, and a hell of a lot more than you’re getting while locked out—to take away leverage from the owners.
Okay, that actually sounds pretty awesome.
Could it work?
Maybe. NBA superstars already enjoy more name recognition than just about any athletes in the world, and a lot of them are already playing in street exhibitions all over the world, anyway. If the players get organized enough to do this in a professional way, why couldn't they tour the United States next season?
That's a big "if", obviously. Organizing a nationwide tour is harder than it sounds—choosing 30 players and making sure they show up would be pretty complicated, too—but could you imagine the leverage the players would gain if they pulled it off? And what happens if NBA players start recruiting friends to help out? If, say, LeBron reaches out to Jay-Z, and the "NBA Concert" in New York City doubles as a Jay-Z show.
Could you imagine Jerry Buss' face when Kobe Bryant played three straight sell-out exhibition games in Anaheim's stadium while the Staples Center sat unoccupied?
That'd actually be the biggest hurdle, I think. Most of the venues that'd accommodate this imaginary "NBA Rock Concert" are owned by NBA owners. If you want to play in Chicago, for instance, there's a big drop-off once you eliminate the United Center as an option.
Still, it's doable. Kevin Garnett could single-handedly shout down any dissent among the players, Shane Battier could take over as the tour's nerdy booking agent, and LeBron and Kobe could be the co-headliners, every single night. If you found the right venues, why not?
And no, you wouldn't pay to see an NBA exhibition game if there was an NBA season, but you might if it's your only chance to see LeBron vs. Kobe in 2011. Plus, you'd be paying for novelty and history; the world's first ever pro basketball world tour. And more than anything else, you'd be paying to help bring basketball back. The more successful this is, the less leverage the owners have, and the quicker the NBA comes back.
The more I think about it... why haven't the players thought of this?