I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time thinking, talking and writing about alternative football leagues. I’ve written about them in book form, short form – I’ve even gone so far as to suggest what kind of alt grid league I’d form myself, down to the team nicknames (I still think Birmingham Battalion is a winner, whether competing in the Summer Football League Would you support the SFL? or a U.S.-based group playing by CFL rules The American League of Canadian Football).
What I haven’t done, however, is jump on the alternative basketball bandwagon.
Scott Adamson writes stuff. Follow him on Twitter @adamsonsl and Instagram @scottscribe60
Maybe it’s because between the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League and EuroLeague (when I’m feeling continental) I’m pretty well satisfied when it comes to pro hoops. And if I have an itch for roundball during the offseason, there’s the NBA Summer league to provide a scratch.
But just for my own amusement (and yours, if you’re easily amused), I’ve decided to conjure the XBL – an extreme, innovative brand of basketball modeled after its football counterpart, the XFL. It’s not that I need another professional basketball organization to exist, it’s just that I feel the need to write about the possible existence of another professional basketball organization.
Like the XFL, the XBL will target major league near-misses and will not pretend to be a rival of the NBA. But since the big league already has a farm system in the G League, it needs to strive to be more than just developmental in nature. This means attempting to pluck athletes currently playing overseas, including former NBA guys who might no longer have the skills required to make an Association roster, but who have some name recognition. Truthfully, between the NBA, G League and EuroLeague, (as well as the fledgling Professional Collegiate League and Overtime Elite), the top players are already taken. Instead of up-and-comers, the XBL will include a lot of down-and-wenters. The pay should be decent, though. The average XFL salary ($55,000 per season) was three percent of the average annual NFL salary, so using that math XBL players will pull down $246,000.
So, when will the league’s season begin?
The two previous incarnations of the XFL started the week after the Super Bowl, filling a late winter/spring gridiron void. Finding down time in basketball is more problematic.
The NBA season, including the playoffs, runs from mid-October to early June. The WNBA starts in May and ends around the time the NBA starts back. Translation: there ain’t no offseason in North American pro hoops.
But since the XBL is a men’s league, we’ll go ahead and start it in mid-June. The regular season will consist of 34 games, so it’ll wrap up in mid-September.
As for franchises, you want the major media markets (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago) to lure TV networks, but you might want to throw in some non-NBA towns as well. So for our inaugural XBL season we’ll go with eight flagship cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York, San Diego and San Francisco.
Baltimore, Cincinnati, Louisville and New York will play in the Eastern Division while Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco make up the Western Division.
The scheduling format is structured so that a team faces each foe in its division six times and teams in the other division four times apiece.
The playoffs are quite simple: East winner meets West winner in a best-of-3 championship series.
And now for my favorite part … rule innovations.
As far as timing, we’ll stick with four, 12-minute quarters. After that, though, things get weird:
* The 3-point line is 21 feet from the basket.