This is interesting.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, several former NBA players including Rasheed Wallace, Al Harrington, Rip Hamilton and others will be playing in a new summer basketball league called the Champions League. The league is set to debut in the summer of 2016.

It sounds like an awesome alternative during the summer as well.

Behold The Champions League, a non-NBA affiliated venture where the league’s chairman and CEO, Carl George, is hoping to provide family-friendly and affordable entertainment during the NBA’s downtime. The vision, expected to be announced formally today, looks like this.

Sixteen teams to begin competing in the summer of 2016, with a strong preference for players who have competed in the NBA during the last three years. According to George, the New York team is already fully formed and includes former NBA players Al Harrington, Rasheed Wallace and Maurice Ager. Teams in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Cleveland are up next, with the goal to employ approximately 250 players in all (170 on teams, others as player-coaches or in other roles). Each team would have two former NBA All-stars on the roster and a Hall of Famer in the front office. George said that 60 players have committed to this point, with many more “in the pipeline” while the subsequent teams are rolled out.

Approximately 30 games to be played in July and August, with 10 charity/marketing events in non-NBA markets during the non-season months also included as part of a player’s compensation package. On average, George said, players would make approximately $200,000 per year (for 80 or 90 days of work) in their pay structure if they take part in both the season and the charity events.

The first charity game, scheduled to be aired on ESPN’s digital channel, ESPN3, will take place on Jan. 29 in Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena. Among the expected participants in that game, according to George: Rip Hamilton, Brandon Roy, Josh Howard and Harrington.

While it remains to be seen how much game guys like Wallace, Harrington and even Rip Hamilton have left, The Champions League sounds like a very promising idea. As soon as the NBA season ends, there is always a dearth of professional basketball so The Champions League could help fill this void.

For retired players, The Champions League is a way for them to connect and still be involved in the game of basketball. As former NBA player Keyon Dooling told Amick, they are not playing for the money.

“It’s not about the money,” Dooling, who still serves the NBA Players Association as the Western region player representative, told USA TODAY Sports. “Most guys will tell you that they miss the community in the locker room, the camaraderie in the locker room, they miss their favorite restaurants that they used to travel to in all these different cities, that they miss the noise of the crowd. Those are some things that even a hundred million dollars can’t fill that void.”

By Glenn Erby


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