NBA Lockout Watch, Day 35: Effort To Launch Player Exhibition Tour Underway
HoopTV producer and director Fred Smith during the NBA lockout is "angling" for a "domestic, player-led exhibition tour that could possibly evolve into a league of their own," according to Sam Amick of SI.com. Smith "spent much of Sunday trying to convince NBA players that it's time for them to step up in this endeavor." There has been "talk of a Aug. 20 All-Star exhibition between" L.A. summer league the Drew League and the DC-based Goodman League in DC. But while Drew League Commissioner Dino Smiley and Smith "were hoping to have the airfare, transportation and housing covered for NBA and non-NBA players alike, the lack of a media partner has left them scrambling for sponsors." Smith said, "I try to explain to these players, 'Why do you think ... that ESPN, Fox, TNT -- for the most part -- haven't been knocking down your door to talk with you, haven't been looking to do interviews with you? Because they're partners with the NBA.'" But he added, "As this whole lockout continues, I think the pressure is going to be on a lot of these broadcasters who are losing a ton of money in advertising by not carrying the NBA to provide some kind of basketball. And I think once mid-November hits and some of these guys start missing paychecks, they're going to want to figure out, 'Well, we need to settle this thing or find other ways to make some money.'" Amick noted Smith "had big plans even before the lockout." He "intended to launch The Basketball Channel as either a television network or online outlet next summer, showcasing the men's and women's game on every level '24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,' as the promise goes on the channel's website." But the lockout "prompted Smith to launch TheBasketballChannel.net now, and discussions with Ustream to air the Drew-Goodman game have given way to a plan to show it on his website for $4.95 per viewing" (SI.com, 8/3).