Whether it wants to be considered this or not, what Impact Basketball is doing starting next week is being called “The Lockout League.” Hey, it’s simple and its catchy. The name is going to stick. Unfortunately for them, hyping this up as an NBA-only league (as opposed to all the Pro-Ams we’ve seen this summer) leads to certain expectations… expectations that are not being met at the moment.
Impact released its schedule and list of participating players to the media yesterday. Here’s a little bit of it:
Over 60 NBA players will attend to train and play competitive games each day. Games will beheld Monday through Thursday during the week of September 12th and Monday through Friday the week of September 19th. After the conclusion of daily skills and performance workouts the competitive games will be conducted at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, and 7:30 pm.
…Top players that will participate include Chauncey Billups, John Wall, Rashard Lewis, Mo Williams, Kyle Lowry, Jermaine O’Neal, Corey Maggette, Zach Randolph, and Stephen Jackson. Many of the 2011 Draft picks will also participate including Derrick Williams, ImanShumpert and Kawhi Leonard.
You can go here for the full press release and list of participating players.
It’s not exactly a who’s who of NBA stars like some of the early rumors hinted. For those of us who were hoping to see a team made up of about four or five Celtics go up against a team of maybe four or five Lakers or Spurs or Heat… forget it. It’s not happening. At least not now. There is still room for bigger stars, like Blake Griffin, to show up. A big name like that will really help raise the profile of these games. But Blake has been noticably absent from this summer’s “hey, let’s play basketball everywhere we can” extravaganza.
So who knows who will be added to these rosters, but as it stands, the talent level isn’t all that impressive. The games will certainly be better than the Pro-Ams, and they’ll probably be a little bit better than the Vegas Summer League we missed out on. But unless some stars start showing up on this list, it won’t be much better than that, And that makes the potential for a “send a message to the owners” kind of thing very unlikely.
Of course, this is no fault of Impact Basketball’s. Their job is to train these athletes, not run leagues. They’re captializing on this lockout nicely by creating something that didn’t exist and gaining some added notoriety out of it. But Impact can’t control expectations or how out of control they might get. Jared Dudley tried to tell us that this isn’t a league. He tried to explain that this is two weeks of training and weight lifting that will also include games for everyone to watch. But all we’re focusing on (we as in blogs and the media) is the “games” aspect.
This is, and always was, just a couple of weeks of training for these guys followed by some games to give the public something it’s been missing this summer. Making it out to be more than that isn’t their fault, it’s the fault of people who took it and ran with it (and, in some cases, still running with it). Present company is included. It will be fun to watch these games if I can, but in the end, they’re no big deal.