For decades, various upstart leagues have attempted to go toe to toe with the NBA in order to win the recreational dollar of the hoop-lovin' sports fan. We're about to see, in no uncertain terms and coming down on high from the league's founders and investors, the first minor-league competitor put in place in order to take on the NBA's official minor league. Look out, D-League, because the well-heeled American Basketball League is looking to glom on to that sweet, sweet D-League dollar.
(Actually, it's looking to serve as an alternate liaison between minor-league players and overseas contacts, with purportedly a better business plan in place that isn't subsidized by the NBA, one that will pay its participants more money per month than the D-League currently does. But let's just talk up the conflict here in order to stay entertained during the NBA's offseason.)
Hip-hop mogul Steve Rifkind is the new ABL's headline-creator, partnering with ABL founder and longtime international basketball go-between Steve Haney. Here's Rifkand's background, taken from the league's website:
Steve Rifkind is the founder of Loud Records, the label that helped kickstart the careers of the Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Big Punisher, Three Six Mafia and a lot of other talented rappers. The ABL is the Amercian Basketball league that will start it's season in January 2013 and the D-League is the "NBA Minor League" that up to now was the only league Americans could play in and stay in the United States while having a decent shot at making the NBA.
And if you have any misconceptions about the league's goals, here the stated purpose taken straight from a press release sent out this week:
The American Basketball League will commence its inaugural 24 game season in January 2013 and will field a 12 team league set to challenge the recent economic and rather public failings of current minor league basketball organizations. Initial ABL markets include; Miami, San Antonio, San Marcos, Sugarland, College Station, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Sebring, and Corpus Christi. Future expansion is scheduled for California and New York.
"To challenge the recent economic and rather public failings of current minor league basketball organizations." Yikes. No named names, but plenty of direct messages.
The one kicker, besides the shortened season that the ABL features? FIBA rules, which could go a long way toward helping the league's participants find work overseas, but also serve as a proving ground of sorts for stateside fans that want to see FIBA-styled play (completely with lax goaltending rules) find its way into the NBA. Before those rules can hit the NBA, as David Stern has claimed he'd like to see, they'd have to be worked over in the D-League first. The ABL is beating Stern's minor league to the punch, in that regard.
More jobs? More gigs? More hoops? Sounds good, ABL. See you in January.
(Hat tip: Marc J. Spears)