“The Premier League will become the NBA of football. It will be greater than the Champions League. Clubs such as Manchester United or Chelsea will have budgets of €700 or €800m. What is happening in England will impact on Germany, Italy, Spain. And I do not imagine that Uefa will not react.”
That was Saint-Étienne co-president Bernard Caiazzo sharing his thoughts on the impact of the Premier League’s latest $7.8 billion TV deal. Basically, he’s worried. He’s concerned his club will become irrelevant, an after-thought, like one of those clubs in our “When They Mattered” series.
To make his case, and probably elicit some sympathy, he’s taking his concerns and framing them as a broader European problem: The Premier League is on course to turn us into a dollar store. It’s quite the populist argument. I wonder if he makes the same argument for the poors when he’s the rich guy in the room, but I digress. Caiazzo is looking out for you, Joe and Josephine Six-Pack. He’s wielding legitimate concerns, but … does the “NBA of football” really sound so terrible?
You know where this is going, so let’s dive right in. Here’s what we can look forward to when the inevitable NBA-ification of the Premier League comes knocking down our doors.
1. Slam dunk contests
OK, maybe not slam dunk contests, but imagine this: An All-Star Weekend event, because of course there will be an All-Star Weekend in the NBA-ified Premier League. Party promoters wearing faded leather jackets over ironic tees converging on Newcastle, eager to cash in on all the star power in attendance. Want to party with Scott Sinclair or Jack Wilshere or Tom Huddlestone? For the right price, you can. But before the party, there will be business to attend to — a contest pitting the great goal scorers against each other in a showboating contest.
Here’s the game: Santi Cazorla whips in corners with whatever foot he pleases because he can. There are no defenders, unless the goal scorer wants to include obstacles to jack up his level of difficulty scores. There’s a goalkeeper, but the goalkeeper never leaves his line and is just there to react after the participant gets a shot off. The goal is simply to score the prettiest goal of all time.
But that’s not even the best part of the dunk contest. The best part is easily when, after a nasty finish, professionals, who are either too cool or too valuable to participate, start walking around like the robot guy on Chappelle Show after dunks.
There is nothing better than reactions to dunks, and Premier League fans should start writing thank you notes now.
Nobody doesn’t want this in their life.
2. Catastrophic organ music
Really awful, ambiance-murdering organ noise blasting over loud speakers during the game.
dun dun dun dun. DUN DUN DUN DUN. DUN DUN DUN DUN.
Nope. No thanks.
Organ music is the worst thing about NBA games. It’s worse than the Knicks. It’s worse than the Knicks with or without Isaiah Thomas involved in any capacity. It’s been the worst thing about the NBA since the guy in the picture was playing the organ. There are no benefits to prolonged exposure — or any exposure — to organ music at a sporting event.
3. Donald Sterling-esque owners
“Out-of-touch old, white dude-owner who doesn’t understand that it’s 2015 to go, please. No, I don’t need a drink. Extra spicy, please.”
Oh wait, the Premier League already has these. So maybe, instead of being an alarmist, Caiazzo’s actually behind the game on this one. The NBA-ification of the Premier League has been in the works for … ever.
4. Michael Jordan comparisons
“Yeah, but LeBron had to go to Miami. Ol’ Akron breath had to go pick up a couple of superstars in order to get it done. Jordan stayed in one spot, for the most part, and dragged that organization to multiple championships.”
“That’s stupid. That doesn’t mean Jordan’s a better basketball player. Plus, Phil Jackson. Keep your simplicity away from me.”
[Four hours later]
“Yeah, but Kobe had Shaq, son.”
You aren’t an NBA of anything league unless your greatest players are compared to Michael Jordan on a daily basis.
I think we have to assume that by the time the Premier League becomes the “NBA of football,” every player who isn’t interested in pursuing an NBA D-League career would have to move over to England (or Wales). That means Cristiano and Messi will be in England (OR WALES). Karim Benzema, too. They will all be compared to Jordan. Every day.
“Cristiano’s done it in two countries, my man. Getting it down in multiple languages. Leagues titles, Champions League trophies, Ballon d’Ors for days.”
“Yeah, holler at me when your man goes to a club like Stoke and drags them over the line. Until then, get out of my face with that nonsense and go back to watching Cristiano’s 30th birthday party highlights.”
[Conversation lasts forever]
5. Premier League’s going sleeveless
Get used to this look, because v-necked, sleeveless soccer players are soon going to be running across our TV screens. That means more skin, more exposure to the elements, more sun screen, more hair grooming, possibly less hair grooming, more frostbite, and more active fonts! Sounds to me like everyone wins. I don’t see the downside.
Organ music aside, I’m a strong lean for the “NBA of football” Premier League. If that means the rest of Europe becomes a development league, that’s fine. If you don’t like it, the market should fix it, right? Just be patient. I hear it’s a virtue.