By Dennis Berry
The NBA lockout began on July 1. Even before the lockout started, there has been concern that a majority, if not all of the 2011-12 NBA season could be lost because of it. Both sides seemed to be locked in for a lengthy battle to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. At this time it looks like we are a long way from an agreement.
The players might have something they can use to their advantage, though. They have options. They can choose to, as LeBron James would say, "take their talents overseas." Basketball is a much more global game now and there are many basketball leagues across the world for NBA players to choose from. There are basketball leagues in China, Israel, Russia, and across Europe.
The biggest star to already announce he has signed a contract to play overseas is New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams. He signed with Besiktas of Turkey. The Turkish Basketball League is considered to be one of the better leagues outside of the NBA. As part of his contract, there is a clause which will release him if an agreement is reached between the owners and players to save the 2011-12 season.
Williams is not the biggest name to be considering playing overseas. Kobe Bryant is reportedly going to meet with Besiktas on July 30. From what is out on the internet, it is not 100% that Bryant will even play overseas. Other names that are reported to be interested in playing overseas are the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard, New Orleans Hornets Chris Paul, and the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant.
Two big names have already said they have no interest in playing overseas. Lebron James and Amare Stoudemire have both announced they will not play overseas. I am sure there is a joke that can be made about James, but I am not going to make it. At this point they are the two biggest players to announce they will stay home, with the possibility of Bryant joining them.
The option of being able to play overseas is a big advantage to the players. Even Players Union President Billy Hunter supports players going overseas to play. Why shouldn't he? There are plenty of reasons to consider going overseas.
Players can be ready when the lockout is over. Going overseas and actually playing is better than sitting at home. If the lockout does take away a portion of the season, guys who have gone overseas to play will be ready if the season starts later. They will be in midseason form as compared to guys who stayed at home and just worked out.
For the players, the biggest reason is to get paid. They will not be making as much as they will in the NBA, but they are still earning money. It should be enough for them to not have to dip into their savings if the lockout takes away a whole season of games. Some players setup contracts to be paid through part of the lockout.
If this is a long lockout, playing overseas will help the players in the long haul. If players are going overseas to play, then the lockout will not affect them as much. On the other hand, what about the owners? How will a long lockout affect them? In the eyes of NBA fans, not good.
If players are willing to play overseas, then that makes the owners look like the bad guys. It makes them look greedy in the eyes of the fans. There are owners that claim their teams are losing money because of the last CBA. Yet they have yet to produce anything that will show what the numbers are. If the owners want to prove their case to the public, they will need to prove that they are indeed losing money.
The only thing that is certain is that fans are losers if the 2011-12 season is lost and players go overseas. After coming off one of the most memorable postseasons in years, the NBA was in great position for coming years. There is great young talent across the league. There is even a team that seems to be disliked so much it brings all NBA fans together as one.
The next couple of months will be interesting to watch. If more and more players opt to play overseas and the lockout starts cutting into the season, the pressure will go on the owners. Will the owners be able to stand firm with players going overseas and no income coming in?
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