I am briefly ending my self-imposed ban on NBA writing to address the topic of a shadow NBA run by the players.
Generally speaking, I am all-in-favor of basketball players circumventing the profiteering NBA owners and forming their own league, as proposed by Professor David Berri. As Berri suggests, the mere (credible) threat of such action would probably end this aggravating labor dispute and get us back to talking and thinking and writing about the NBA, as we ought to be doing.
But would such an idea work? Wouldn’t a Player’s NBA eventually revert to the same organism as the current NBA, complete with the same problems, just as the farm did in Orwell’s classic allegory Animal Farm? In other words, at some point, wouldn’t the players, or a controlling faction of players, “take charge” in the best interests of the PNBA, and wouldn’t those same quasi-owners then begin to look and act and talk like the NBA owners look and act and talk today?
I cannot see how such a dystopic outcome could be avoided. Everything will begin merrily, but at some point in the future a dispute will arise, and a certain group of players will find it in the PNBA’s “best interest” to centralize command and control, in order to make the “hard” decisions that may hurt some group of players (veterans) but will benefit the Players and the PNBA as a whole.
At first the controlling group may be led by magnanimous “player/owners”, whose only concern is the betterment of the Players, just like Snowball the pig in Animal Farm, sought only the betterment of the animals. But eventually the good players will be overrun and outmaneuvered by a more ruthless collection of player/owners who are driven by greed and their own desire for control.
Inevitably, the new more ruthless group of player/owners will find it necessary to “control Player costs” in order to “insure the survival of the PNBA”. And in support of this cost-control crusade, they will begin to sing songs from the very same hymnal the current group of owners have been singing from for the last generation. And the Players would resist in kind, and for the same reasons they are resisting today.
And then we would all be back in the same soup we are swimming in now. And the Players and the Fans, like Boxer the horse, will have changed the masters of pro basketball out with all new ones who will come to look quite similar to the old ones, and they and we will not have become appreciably better off for it.
And you can bet the beer will still cost $7 a pop. At least, that is my fear.