Do you suffer from basketball withdrawal following the NBA finals? WNBA basketball not filling the void during those long summer months? Well, I've got good news for you. The Champions League, featuring former pro players, is coming to a city near you next summer.
Sixteen teams [are slated 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 [league chairman and CEO Carl] George, the New York team is already fully formed and includes former NBA players Al Harrington, Rasheed Wallace and Maurice Ager. Teams in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and 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 Famer in 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. [...]
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.
Notable players such as Brandon Roy, Josh Howard, Keyon Dooling and Rip Hamilton are also expected to compete in the league. January 29, 2016 has been chosen as the tipoff day, with a charity event scheduled to benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund and Jimmy V Foundation.
"It’s not about the money," Dooling, who still serves the NBA Players Association as the Western region player representative, told USA TODAY Sports. "Most guys will tell you that they miss the community in the locker room, the camaraderie in the locker room, they miss their favorite restaurants that they used to travel to in all these different cities, that they miss the noise of the crowd. Those are some things that even a hundred million dollars can’t fill that void.
The idea of the Champions League is interesting. Its a great opportunity for former players to continue to compete at a high level without the physical demands of a long NBA or pro season. It will also provide a cheap alternative to NBA basketball, as tickets will only cost $25.00. But, will the product be worth paying for? How exciting will it be to watch former players competing against one another? There are certainly a lots of question marks surrounding this league, but at the very least it will be worth a look.