Sunday, August 21, 2011

How To Save Rap And Basketball -- A Prospectus On The NBL

Chicago Bulls. Wu-Tang Clan. NBA Jam. MTV Jams. Michael Jordan sinks the Jazz. Suge Knight blasts Bad Boy.

Since their respective apexes in the 90's both professional basketball and rap music have suffered precipitous falls; the NBA currently mired in a lockout that will make the NFL labor dispute look like a tea party (no, not that one) while hip-hop has devolved into a sludge of overproduced and uninspired Diddy & ditties.

At initial glance it seems logically what cures one would invariably heal the other. After all the talent (black), demographics (urban), power brokers (rich, white billionaires), the very zeitgeist of the two entities closely correlate. Yet previous attempts to forge the bond between basketball and rap have been mixed. Streetball? Too haphazard on and off the court. The NBA? More concerned about exploiting its black workforce than embracing it. See hiring former Bush strategist Matt Dowd, banning jewelry from league photo shoots, Donald Sterling, et al.

But what if an organization could successfully embrace the best ballers playing for the biggest rappers?

Enter the National Basketball League.
The NBL logo re-imagines -- remixes as it were -- the NBA logo, maintaining the familiar color scheme and silhouette while also acknowledging the urban influence in the next evolution of professional basketball. Its triangle design honors The Illuminati as well as opens up valuable advertising space for league sponsors.

Russell Simmons will serve as Commissioner and Rick Rubin will act as Deputy Commissioner. Jay-Z, the Brooklyn-born rapper who paved The Blueprint for hip-hop crossing into the mainstream, will play the role of League Ambassador. His unique blend of street cred, business savvy and basketball acumen (in addition to being part-owner of the New Jersey Nets he also dabbled in the EBC tournament at legendary Rucker Park) makes him the perfect candidate to promote the NBL during its formative years.

In addition to his position with the league Jay-Z will also own one of the New York teams. The NBL will have ten squads in four divisions:

East Side
New York: Jay-Z
New York: 50 Cent
Philadelphia: Will Smith
Toronto: Drake
Miami: Rick Ross

Midwest
Chicago: Kanye West
Detroit: Eminem

Dirty South
New Orleans: Lil' Wayne
Atlanta: Andre 3000

West Side
Los Angeles: Snoop Dogg

Rappers will have the right to determine team colors, names, logos, marketing campaigns (preferably guerrilla), rules of conduct, ticket prices as well as employ their homeboys in administrative and coaching positions.

Ownership will be renewed on a yearly basis based on multiple factors such as rapper popularity and availability. For example T.I. is eligible to own Team Atlanta once he is eligible for release from prison. League expansion, contraction and ownership changes will require majority votes from NBL teams.

Volatility throughout the league is expected thus the initial geographic imbalance is not considered a problem although the surging popularity of the Dirty South must be addressed.

Teams are free to sign up to 12 players to a roster. NBL players will be considered independent contractors and thus eligible to play for any team at any time. Likewise teams can release players at any time. Roster turnover, backstabbing and package deals are expected.

League revenue from merchandise, tickets and media sales will be split evenly between all the teams. Players on the winning team will receive twice as much money as those on losing teams. All NBL employees will be paid via RushCard with incurred transaction fees being reinvested in the league.

Rappers will be required to release at least two songs during the season. These tracks will be compiled in the NBL Season 1 Mixtape. 100% of the proceeds will be reinvested in the league.

Broadcast rights will go to NBC Sports Network, which is desperate to land an upstart sports league to compete against ESPN. As part of its "NBL On NBC" campaign the channel formerly known as Versus will televise every game, post-game interview/fight as well as introduce "Inside the NBL" with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Lil Jon. "Roundball Rock" will return as the official NBC basketball theme.

The league will strive to find and employ the best basketball referees in the world. Thus all NBA referees are banned from the NBL. Game Officials will also receive competitive salaries and security detail to ensure their integrity.

The front row of every NBL game will be reserved for NBL Wives and Girlfriends. Their on- and off-the-court exploits will be documented on the next season of VH1’s "Basketball Wives."

Like participants in the rap industry NBL players will be free to use HGH, steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Throwing up gang signs and saying faggot will be rewarded accordingly.

Every team will play a 27-game regular season schedule comprised of nine home games, nine away games and nine contests on neutral courts. The NBL will emphasis a barnstorming tour of metro areas across the country beginning in Seattle where NBL members will pour out a little liquor in honor of fallen SuperSonics. Other destinations include Oakland, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, Charlotte, Virginia Beach and Boston. Games in China, South America and Europe remain a distinct possibility.

At the end of the regular season the top seeds in the East Side and Midwest will play in one conference final while the West Side and Dirty South will compete in the other. The format will be single-game elimination.

Winners will advance to NBL Finals Week, which will combine the festivities of the Super Bowl with the debauchery of NBA All-Star Weekend, culminating Saturday night with the NBL Awards live from the Apollo Theater.

The Finals will take place on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Once again, single-game elimination. In lieu of a championship trophy each member of the winning team will receive NBL gold medallions.

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