Editor's note: We're less than four weeks away from the start of the NBA season that's not starting. Die-hard basketball fans Kang and Simmons are a little frustrated — so much so that they decided to exchange e-mails all day about a hypothetical renegade pro hoops league that will never happen. Here's what transpired.
KANG: This NBA lockout has me thinking about Marx and Engels and a bunch of stuff I should have learned in college about labor power and alienation and how the worker should have control over his own economic fate. Specifically, I'm remembering a part of Ken Burns' Baseball documentary, in which George Will says that baseball is the one instance where a worker-driven system makes sense. To paraphrase, he says that in the history of the game not one person has bought a ticket or turned on a television to watch an owner. As such, because the products are the players, the players should control the majority of the wealth.
And so, with no really positive news coming out of the labor meetings in New York, I was thinking about alternatives that would save our NBA stars from the indignity of playing in Europe.
Here's the basic idea for a player-owned league, which I would call "The Oracle."
SIMMONS: "The Oracle?" Nice name! It sounds like either a renegade professional basketball league, a new cable movie channel, an AMC drama or Dr. Dre's next comeback album. I'm in on The Oracle no matter what it ends up being.
KANG: Glad to see we're in agreement about the name! It also allows fans to make O's with their hands like they do for Oregon football.
First, we need a commissioner/bankroller. Larry Ellison has to be the man to spearhead this league. He's pissed because he got shut out in the Warriors sale (by the way, if you're looking for another reason to get angry at the owners, how about the fact that they wouldn't allow the third-richest man in America to be a part of their little club?). Oh, and he also spent $200 million to win an effing yachting competition. He wouldn't need too much more than that to start The Oracle, and if he somehow replaced the NBA with some weird proto-Communist version of professional basketball, it would be the greatest double-barreled middle finger to anything, ever.
SIMMONS: I like the way you're thinking here. To be fair, Ellison choked on the Warriors purchase — he lowballed them with his initial offer, then increased it at the last minute only when Joe Lacob and Peter Guber were closing with their $450 million bid. And the NBA blocked Ellison's Hornets play only because they knew he planned on breaking the team's New Orleans lease and moving it to San Jose. But this works for your commissioner/bankroller purposes: At this point, Ellison has probably convinced himself that the NBA is cockblocking him, even if that's not necessarily true. Who better to launch a spiteful renegade league? If not him, we'll find another billionaire with deep pockets, thin skin and a big ego. The bigger questions: Where would you put the teams? And how many?
KANG: I'm thinking eight teams in New York, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston, Las Vegas, and Seattle.
There are no basketball antitrust laws in place. NBA arenas can rent their spaces out to all sorts of things right now: concerts, monster truck rallies, gymnastics competitions, Globetrotters exhibitions, etc. Unless there's language in a contract that specifies, "In case of a lockout, you CANNOT host another basketball team," there shouldn't be a problem. And if there is, then screw it, they can just play in a college gym.
The team names would be sponsored. Like the Atlanta Waffle Houses or the Subaru Dealerships of Greater Seattle.
SIMMONS: The Atlanta Waffle Houses would have the greatest uniforms ever. Also, they would make me hungry. Constantly. You're smart to go with sponsored names, even if that ruins my idea to have teams called the Seattle Nirvana and the Baltimore Wire. But it's too risky to mess around with existing NBA cities/stadiums; because television/Internet revenue will be driving this league anyway, they should pick medium-size cities that don't have teams but could easily accommodate them. You're right about Las Vegas and Seattle. Two killer choices. I'm already welling up at the thought of pro hoops returning to Seattle. Seriously, get me some Kleenex. The first "Fuck you, Stern!" chant during the first quarter of their first home game will be one of the best sports moments of the year. Instead of Los Angeles, I would grab Anaheim as the token SoCal team — it's only 50 minutes from L.A., it has a solid stadium in place, and it wants pro hoops so desperately that it did everything short of building an avoid-bankruptcy-and-keep-your-team parachute for the Maloofs last spring (before the NBA blocked the move). The fourth West Coast team should be Vancouver since it's pushing so hard for an NBA team, although you could also talk me into San Jose for the Silicon Valley money.
And Kansas City is a no-brainer as the fifth team: It has a state-of-the-art NBA arena, and it's also on suicide watch right now with the Chiefs and Royals. Nobody needs this league more than Kansas City. You're right, Seattle needs it more. My bad.
From there, you need two East Coast teams: I'd go with Baltimore OR Pittsburgh (can't have both), then Hartford (midway point between New York and Boston, plus it still has its renovated 16k-seat arena from its Whalers days). And for the eighth team, do we need to go South or could we add another Western team? Let's see, Austin, Jacksonville, Tampa or Nashville (Thinking.) Screw it, let's go with the 'Burgh. My final picks: Seattle, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Anaheim (West); Baltimore, Hartford, Kansas City and Pittsburgh (East). And yes, I know Kansas City isn't technically "East." I'm well aware. Thanks for pointing this out. I got it. By the way, don't put it past Ellison to stick one of the eight teams in Malibu — he already owns half of Carbon Beach. Maybe the SoCal team could play at Pepperdine right down the street. If Pepperdine could handle a couple dozen Battle of the Network Stars shows once upon a time, I'm pretty sure it could handle "The Oracle."
KANG: Kansas City does have that arena and might draw some of the Jayhawk crowd, especially if you stocked the team with KU alums. I'm in on that. Vancouver's interesting because of Steve Nash's potential involvement, but I don't know if you want to put two of eight teams in the Pacific Northwest. San Jose works — it'll make commissioner Ellison happy, draw in the hoops-crazy population of the Bay Area, and bring forth an entire new type of celebrity. Instead of seeing Penny Marshall at Clipper games, you could see Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, and Meg Whitman whenever the San Jose Cisco Wireless Routers were in action.
SIMMONS: Good call. I'm excited to see those San Jose courtside seats go for $375,000 per game. That could pay for the league right there. How would the "Player Draft" go? This is crucial — we need a format that would produce at least seven different mock drafts by Chad Ford.
KANG: Here's my vision: Eight entrepreneurial stars would "buy" franchises from Ellison and serve as captains. And then, in a huge pay-per-view event, those eight captains would pick their teams.
SIMMONS: Whoa!!!!!! Snake fashion?
KANG: Snake fashion.
SIMMONS: And pay-per-view?
SIMMONS: I'm giddy.
KANG: Every player who wants to play in The Oracle would be required to be in attendance for the draft. The captains would take home the largest portion of any money the team made, obviously, but they'd also be taking on risk. The other players would be paid at the player/owner's discretion. But can you imagine how many awesome stories would come out of contract negotiations alone?
SIMMONS: I like the thought of Kobe Bryant negotiating with really anybody. That alone is reason to do this league. The only potential stumbling block: How would they decide the eight captains? On paper, the captains SHOULD be Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Dirk Nowitzki, since those are the eight best players in the league. But how do we trust that Wade wouldn't make all of LeBron's decisions for him like he did in the summer of 2010? And do you really think stars like Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are signing off on NOT being captains? No way. Too many egos.
Here's the move: What if we went with co-captains for the eight teams, with the rule that current NBA teammates cannot be Oracle co-captains. (Sorry, Wade and LeBron.) I like these pairings: Nowitzki and Nash (cue up Peaches & Herb!); Carmelo and Deron Williams (a possible 2012-13 Knicks preview); Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love (an emotional reunion of their eight months at UCLA pretending to be students); Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (let the alley-oops begin!); Rose and Amar'e Stoudemire (high screens galore); Durant and Zach Randolph (the new "Odd Couple"); Wade and Dwight Howard (your favorites — we need a "front-runner" team that will convince everyone to pick them, then eventually let everyone down, a la the 2011 Red Sox, Heat and Eagles); and Kobe and LeBron (how fascinating would that be?). Kang, find a flaw with this plan. You can't.
KANG: This is why there needs to be a commissioner who also happens to have $33 billion. We'll have the captains pair up, as you suggested, and then everyone can submit their applications to a committee headed up by me, you, Ellison, Bill Walton, and Barack Obama.
SIMMONS: I'd like to include Justin Bieber as well.
KANG: Fine. The Oracle Committee decides which captain duos get to participate in the live pay-per-view draft. Shit, we could even pay-per-view the selection process, right? One wrinkle: Every player in the draft pool has one veto, meaning they can refuse to play for a certain team. What would be the best possible veto outcomes?
SIMMONS: For me, the remaining Lakers all using their "Veto" on Kobe's team would be the funniest veto, narrowly edging Baron Davis using his veto on gluten-free food. Wait, I have two more tweaks: First, we should only have 10 players per team. That's it. Second, since 10-player rosters means 80 players total (counting the 16 co-captains), shouldn't we invite 64 players total to the draft, if only to see who'd be the 64th and last guy selected? I'd be more fascinated in that 63rd selection than anything. What an ego slam for the last guy standing. Sorry, John Salmons, you were No. 64. We could bet on this and everything. That reminds me, what happens to undrafted guys?
KANG: Couldn't we just have 65 players at the draft, so that one of them gets left out? And if we did, I'm going with Brandon Roy. The entire city of Portland would call for a boycott of The Oracle. Three games into the season, Portland would return to combing its beard and crashing its fixed-gear bike into "_____ly responsible" latte stands/record stores. A collective sense of relief (and self-satisfaction) would wash over the city's residents, who finally realize that they don't really like basketball. They just really, really like regionalism and pronouncing "O-reh-GONE," and yelling at other people about how "great" Portland is, when it's really just—
SIMMONS: Tread carefully, Kang. I felt the wrath of the Portland soccer moms once. It's like swimming in a pool and suddenly being attacked by piranha. You don't even know what's happening, just that you're surrounded by your own blood and flesh.
KANG: Anyway. For guys like Roy, I'd set up a second division, a la the Premiership, where undrafted players could set up their own teams and play their way into the first division. This league would be set on a barnstorming schedule, with a league-wide cap of 20 franchises. Going off something you wrote in a mailbag last month about teams based on alma maters, my personal fantasy here would be if every old Carolina player got together and formed a team to play in the old Carmichael Gym in Chapel Hill. Of course, Duke would also have a team of old guys who didn't make the Oracle League.
A sample Carolina starting five: PG: Ed Cota; SG: Rashad McCants; SF: Tyler Hansbrough; PF: Rasheed Wallace; C: Brendan Haywood.
A sample Duke starting five: PG: Steve Wojciechowski; SG: Chris Collins; SF: Chris Burgess; PF: Christian Laettner; C: Cherokee Parks.
SIMMONS: Love how you started five white guys for Duke. Your Carolina bias didn't show at all there. Anyway, I love relegation in all forms, so you don't need to twist my arm. They should have done this for the fall TV schedule — "Sorry, Playboy Club, you've been relegated to the USA Network." Plus, you could stick a pro hoops team filled with alums in any college hotbed; those fans are so rabid, they'd come out regardless of the talent level, how fat or drunk the alumni players were it just wouldn't matter. Duke, Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, UCLA, Georgetown, Gonzaga (yes, Gonzaga), Syracuse, Florida, UConn, Ohio State and Maryland should all have their own alumni-heavy teams. Total no-brainer. That's 12 for the relegation league right there. You're telling me UConn fans wouldn't fork money over to see Travis Knight and Khalid El-Amin running a high screen down memory lane? Come on.
KANG: UConn would have to happen. Georgetown would also be awesome. Iverson and Vic Page reunited in the backcourt, Hibbert in the post. Actually, maybe this is the way Big East fans could deal with the decimation of their league. Every Big East fan I know just wants to go back to the days of John Wallace and Donyell Marshall. The Oracle could make that dream happen. I'd also pay to see Georgia Tech, with Will Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Derrick Favors, BJ Elder, Kenny Anderson, and Anthony Morrow a.k.a. @blackboipachino.
Also, can you imagine what would happen in San Jose? Once Zuckerberg, Meg Whitman, and Sergey Brin start showing up at games, they are going to immediately go out and back their own franchises. Zuckerberg would pay $80 million for Yi Jianlian in an effort to bring Facebook to China. Sergey Brin would counter with Wang Zhizhi. And how long would it take for the Palo Alto eBays to buy everyone from Kobe's team, make the jump to the A League, and contend for a championship?
SIMMONS: I'm fine with up to eight Silicon Valley teams. In the words of the immortal philosopher Rasheed Wallace, "CTC." CTC, rich billionaire software nerds. CTC. Here's another idea for two more relegation teams: Hey, Austin Rivers and every other McDonald's All-American from last summer feel like ending the college charade, leaving the corrupt NCAA and making cash right away? Feel free to join The Oracle. We'd love to have you. And it's not like the season would be longer, right? How many games were you thinking?
KANG: In the A-League, I'd go with a 29-game regular season, with room for All-Star Weekend (including a $2 million dunk contest open to anyone in the world), then a playoffs with four teams making it, best of seven each round, and the entire postseason gate going to the winning team. The team that wins the championship wins some portion of the league's total TV revenue. With Ellison's money, his maverick personality, and his team of lawyers, can you tell me one reason why this wouldn't just be a better version of the NBA?
SIMMONS: And we haven't even split up the TV money yet. NBC Sports would jump at the chance to shed its WEN (White Entertainment Network) image and turn Versus into a network that, you know, occasionally might have black people on it. Plus, they'd get a TON of programming out of it. And better ratings than you'd think. Did you see 1.1 million people supposedly watched Chris Paul's pay-per-view pickup game last weekend? Jeez, even I wouldn't have watched that — who wants to see NBA players jog around, hog the ball, jack up threes and play matador defense? Well, other than James Dolan? And why should I be impressed that Kevin Durant dropped 60 against a bunch of scrubs? Isn't that exactly what he should be doing to a bunch of scrubs? We need to organize this stuff, Kang — we need coaching, practices, hastily done uniforms and obnoxiously integrated sponsor names, we need co-captains, we need billionaire owners, and we need to start drafting this stupid league that will never happen because it makes too much sense right now. Come up with a draft order already.
KANG: By random number generation, we've come up with the following Draft Order: Westbrook/Love; Carmelo/Deron; Rose/Amar'e; Wade/Howard; Kobe/LeBron; Dirk/Nash; Griffin/CP3; Durant/Z-Bo. Let's do three mock rounds so each team has a starting lineup. Quick question: Do we include KG and Duncan?
SIMMONS: I say no. Just cross 'em off. Those guys are too old, too rich, too banged-up and too pissed off that we didn't make them co-captains. I like my ridiculously hypothetical drafts that would never actually happen to be as realistic as possible. Let's switch off picks. I'll make the first pick of Round 1
Westbrook/Love take Pau Gasol, and only because it's too early for them to take a third UCLA guy. Gasol should have been a co-captain, but we had to penalize him for turning into a chalk outline in the 2011 playoffs.
KANG: Carmelo/Deron take Andrew Bynum. They need a defensive center and fall into the Bynum trap.
SIMMONS: Rose/Amar'e take Al Horford. The run on big guys is officially on! Also, this allows Amar'e to never worry about guarding anybody. I mean, ever.
KANG: Wade/Howard take LaMarcus Aldridge. Unselfish guy who spaces the floor, feeds off Wade's energy, can overplay on defense because he knows Howard is protecting the rim, and knows how to play third fiddle after years of being the overlooked star in Portland.
SIMMONS: Wow, you just turned into Jay Bilas. You forgot to mention Aldridge's length. Kobe/LeBron take Nene, and only because they know they can get a point guard coming back in Round 2. Meanwhile, the big-guy run has turned into a big-guy panic! I just looked up DeMarcus Cousins' 2011 stats to make sure you won't laugh when I pick him next round.
KANG: Dirk/Nash take Josh Smith! Nash throws three alley-oops to Josh per game. Dirk doesn't have to work as hard (or at all) on the boards and Josh Smith finally finds his true basketball calling: playing with two white guys who make his life easier. He goes for 15-14 with 3 blocks and 2.5 steals every game. This team, by the way, sells millions of jerseys.
SIMMONS: Griffin/CP3 take Manu Ginobili. That's a really interesting top-three. If this were a 10-year draft, I'd take Eric Gordon here. For 29 games? MA-NEWWWWWWWWW!
KANG: Durant/Z-Bo take Rajon Rondo. I don't think there are three people with less in common.
SIMMONS: All right, I'll plow through Round 2 and you take Round 3. We're going in snake fashion, so
Durant/Z-Bo/Rondo take Marc Gasol (that's suddenly a ridiculous team, and yes, we kept the "nothing in common" theme alive).
Griffin/CP3/Ginobili take Chris Bosh (good value and he's already used to being a spare part).
Dirk/Nash/Josh take Eric Gordon (it's a smallball fest a la the 2006 Suns!).
Kobe/LeBron/Nene take Stephen Curry (giving them a potentially devastating offensive team).
Wade/Howard/Aldridge take Rudy Gay (best swing guy on the board).
Rose/Amar'e/Horford take Paul Pierce (pissed that nobody took him yet, by the way).
Carmelo/Deron/Bynum take Joe Johnson (remember, his monstrosity of an NBA salary doesn't count in The Oracle, although Ellison could always decide to give him $50 million per year to keep the balance askew).
Westbrook/Love/Gasol take Andre Iguodala (defensive stopper, glue guy).
Take us home, Kang.
KANG: OK, here's Round 3
Westbrook/Love/Gasol/Igoudala take John Wall. We're not picking benches yet, but consider what would happen if you took out Love and put in, say, Tony Allen. Westbrook, Wall, Gasol, Igoudala, and Grime-N-Grit would tire out every team in the Oracle. And once the opponent's legs started to go, it would be a dunk competition for Westbrook, Wall, and Iggy.
Carmelo/Deron/Bynum/Joe Johnson take Khloe and Lamar. The team needs a versatile three, sure, but more than that, they need someone to spice up the roster. I think this team has massive attendance problems. Might want to place them in one of the cities that will just be happy to have basketball around. Seattle, get ready to get Kardashian-ed.
Rose/Amar'e/Horford/Pierce take Ray Allen. Again, it's a 29-game season. Whenever Rose and Amar'e can't quite generate the pick-and-roll dunk, Rose just tosses it out to Ray, who should be wide open from long-range. At first, I thought this team was going to finish in the bottom half. Now, I'm convinced they can make the finals.
Wade/Howard/Aldridge/Gay take Serge Ibaka. Bringing back Bilas, this would be the lengthiest, girthiest team in the history of the league.
Kobe/LeBron/Nene/Curry take Tyson Chandler. This is where Boogie Cousins could have gone, but contract negotiations broke down with Kobe.
Dirk/Nash/Josh Smith/Eric Gordon take Boogie Cousins! Sets up a wonderful locker room, with Boogie and Josh Smith on one side, Dirk and Nash on the other, and poor Eric Gordon stuck in the middle. If this team gets the right coach, they'll make the playoffs. If they get, say, Mike Brown or Eric Musselman, they might not win a game.
Blake/CP3/Ginobili/Bosh take Paul Millsap. Gives them everything they need and provides CP3 with a second alley-oop partner.
Durant/Z-Bo/Rondo/Mark Gasol take Monta Ellis. Might not be the best fit, because Monta needs the ball in his hands, but this team can't pass on the talent/scoring. They'll average 120+ points per game.
SIMMONS: Wow. Danny Granger is walking around aimlessly, sobbing and wondering what he did to you. He didn't make out with your girlfriend once, right? Just checking. All right, I'm ranking the teams and assigning cities to them
Anaheim Activision Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (no. 1 seed)
Kobe, LeBron, Steph Curry, Nene, Tyson Chandler
That's a borderline juggernaut. Especially when Kobe flies everyone to Italy right before the season to rejuvenate their knee joints by genetically screening them, treating their blood, then culturing that blood with chemicals and re-injecting it back into their knees, because this sounds totally legal and not like blood doping at all.
Hartford Lux Bond & Green (no. 2 seed)
Wade, Howard, Aldridge, Gay, Ibaka
They're too big upfront, but we could address that pretty easily in Rounds 6 and 7 by grabbing a point guard (Tony Parker?) and second swing guy (James Harden?). Unrelated: I love that Parker didn't get picked. It's like the entire renegade league did a silent protest in Brent Barry's honor. Also, how great would an Anaheim-Hartford Finals be? Wade and Howard vs. Kobe and LeBron? And wouldn't NBC Sports go nuts for a (90 Minutes From) New York vs. (50 Minutes From) Los Angeles Finals? That could be (not really that) HUGE ratings!
Kansas City Klondike Bars (no. 3 seed)
Rose, Amar'e, Horford, Pierce, Ray Allen
Our most complete team from a position-by-position standpoint. Couldn't you see Pierce thriving for the Klondike Bars with all the Jayhawks fans screaming for him? And Kang, can you believe how seamlessly I'm working Grantland's sponsors into this column? This doesn't feel forced at all!
Seattle's Best (no. 4 seed)
Durant, Z-Bo, Rondo, Marc Gasol, Ellis
You screwed them over with your last pick. Should have taken Danny Granger. Chad Ford is giving you an "F" in his report card tomorrow, Kang. Anyway, I am excited to (a) watch this team, (b) reunite Gasol and Z-Bo, (c) call a professional sports team "Seattle's Best," and (d) reunite Durant with Seattle. You hear that, David Stern? We're reuniting Durant with Seattle! Don't you point your finger at me! I'm not your child!!!
KANG: Monta was the right pick there! They'd just have to draft some stiff to shoot 3s, put Monta on the bench (if things got too clogged at the start of the season) and you'd have Durant, Z-Bo, Rondo and the greatest bench scorer (irrational confidence guy) maybe in history???
SIMMONS: Don't complain to me, complain to Chad Ford. He just called you David Kahn 2.0 in his draft report card and wrote "KANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!" As for our non-playoff teams
Pittsburgh Five-Dollar Footlongs (no. 5 seed)
Dirk, Nash, Josh Smith, Gordon, Cousins
Weird team. I don't love the pieces as a whole, although I like them separately and the Dirk/Nash reunion makes me so happy that I don't know what to do with myself. To be honest, I'm afraid to put these guys in Pittsburgh because that sneaky Canuck Nash might undermine the team's Pittsburgh relationship (a la Sienna Miller a few years ago) in a nefarious attempt to move them to Vancouver after four games. Always be careful of Nash. I wouldn't be surprised if Jared Dudley filed for dual Canadian citizenship soon — Nash is to Canada what Tom Cruise is to Scientology.
San Jose Intel Core i7's (no. 6 seed)
Carmelo, Deron, Bynum, Joe Johnson, Lamar Odom
This group leaves me cold for some reason. They need a little more personality. Kind of like Silicon Valley. I'm excited for these uniforms, though. And for the $375,000-per-game courtside seats. It doesn't ultimately matter if this team wins or loses, their attendance money will be funding most of the league.
Baltimore Barbasol (no. 7 seed)
Blake, CP3, Ginobili, Chris Bosh, Millsap
Too small for my liking, although that's not stopping me from being excited for their alley-oops and their marketing campaign. Blake Griffin, you're looking good. Handsome, free and tall. Close shave, America. The Baltimore Barbasol. By the way, I thought about naming this team "The Baltimore Netflix Qwiksters," but Netflix will be bankrupt by the time this league starts.
Las Vegas Lexus (no. 8 seed)
Westbrook, Love, Pau Gasol, Igoudala, John Wall
For comedy purposes, and for the sake of the sports-blog industry, it's crucial that we put our youngest team in the city with the most distractions. I see them swinging a big "Gasol for Cousins and cash" trade midway through the season, then things really falling apart, somebody eventually going missing and everything ending with a humiliating relegation and possibly someone losing a thumb.
My finals pick: Hartford over Kansas City in the finals. That's right, Hartford and Kansas City bathe in those big-market ratings, Kang! What about you?
KANG: I've got Seattle's Best over Hartford in six. I think you're underestimating what would happen if Rondo, Durant, M. Gasol, Monta, and Z-Bo ever stepped on a court together. That team might shoot 60 percent for the season. And Seattle would have the biggest home-court advantage in the league. (Actually, that might be Vegas. Not because of the crowd, but more because of the 90 percent chance that Lamar flips out and is last seen entering Cheetah's at three in the afternoon.) Hartford Lux Bond & Green gets to the finals on size, but they don't have anyone who can guard Seattle's quick point guards. After he's eliminated, Wade sits up on the podium with Dwight Howard and answers all his questions for him. Dwight only speaks to tell everyone who is not a star in The Oracle to "go back to their miserable lives."
Hilarity and joy ensue.
SIMMONS: So why wouldn't this work? I can only come up with seven reasons
1. The league is geared toward the top 80 guys which is only 20 percent of the players union. If I'm Delonte West, or Josh Powell, I'm definitely not excited about The Oracle.
2. The insurance premiums would be massive. How do you insure dozens of guys who already have contracts guaranteeing them eight figures a year?
3. We need Worldwide Wes to sign off. He could squash the league singlehandedly. Maybe we could throw him the Fab Five Alumni relegation team as a bribe and let him coach it.
4. How much time does it take to organize things like ticket-sales staffs, coaching staffs, medical staffs, schedule-makers, travel schedules, a governing body (someone who decides on rules, penalties and so on), drug testing (half The Oracle guys just shuddered), PED testing (20 percent of The Oracle guys just shuddered), a television infrastructure (remember, you have to televise every game, whether it's on TV or the Internet), Internet streaming, merchandise sales and everything else that makes a professional sports league work? Fine, you're right — we'll just unofficially legalize drugs and PEDs in a wink-wink way like the NBA does to make things easier. But everything else? I don't know how long that takes to figure out. If it's four weeks, we can pull the league off. If it's four months? That's too long.
5. Two words: Gus Johnson. If we don't get him, we're just making our lives more difficult. I want our no. 1 announcing team to be Gus Johnson and Tommy Heinsohn, with Kate Upton and Sloane from Entourage as the sideline reporters. Anything less is a failure.
6. I'm worried about finding enough groupies for these mid-market cities. Do we have to import some from the bigger cities? I don't want these guys to get into a series of Twitter/DM scandals on the road because they're horny and need some immediate affection, only they don't have their old standbys available. Let's make this a Level 1 priority.
7. Ellison turns us down. Larry, if you're reading, here's my plea: You have 33 billion dollars. There's nothing — repeat: nothing — that one could do that would be cooler than funding a renegade professional basketball league that eventually broke David Stern and the greedy NBA owners. You could build the first-ever yacht/spaceship and it wouldn't be this cool. Just think about it. Kang, you're a genius.
KANG: Me and Kaaaaaaaaaahn.
If we don't get Ellison, we could always make a run at Zuckerberg. He's clearly in some weird over-tinkering mode with Facebook. Anyone over the age of 26 can't figure out how to use it anymore. And once the company goes public next year, his life is going to be filled with board meetings, shareholder conferences, etc. He might be looking for a new project.
Zuck, you know what's cooler than hanging out with Sean Parker? Playing craps in Vegas with Charles Oakley. Just please don't take the idea of "The Oracle League," rebrand it as "The Zucker" (later changed to just "Zucker") and yell at me at a deposition about whether or not you used any of my code. I don't even know how to make em-dashes in html. If you do, I'm coming for your league, and when I get it, I'm going to call it the "Winklevoss Google+ Finals Club Basketball League." (WGFBL.)
Cut me in 20 percent, Mark, and we're good.
Jay Caspian Kang is an editor at Grantland. His debut novel, The Dead Do Not Improve, will be published by Hogarth/Random House in summer 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @jaycaspiankang.
Bill Simmons is the Editor in Chief of Grantland and the author of the recent New York Times no. 1 best-seller The Book of Basketball, now out in paperback with new material and a revised Hall of Fame Pyramid. For every Simmons column and podcast, log on to Grantland. Follow him on Twitter and check out his new home on Facebook.