The NBA lockout is still in its early stages but even Clayton Bigsby can see this one is going to be much different than the NFL’s version. Pro football players have limited options as football is a limited game from a global perspective. North America is pretty much the lone section of the globe where one can make a living playing the sport.
With basketball, however, that is not at all the case.
The world is quietly falling in love with hoops and there is no shortage of countries that have their own professional leagues. From here in The States to the archipelago of the Philippines, one can make a living playing basketball.
While the NBA might be the most lucrative league it is by no means the only game in town. Thus it has quickly become a fad for locked out pros to search for work overseas. Each day another big name comes forward willing to take the plunge of playing in foreign territory.
Kobe Bryant is no different as he too has expressed an interest in playing overseas during the work stoppage. Naturally the knee jerk reaction to Bryant and anyone looking to get a new stamp on their hoops passport is the concern of injury.
Is it a legit concern? Of course it is. But so too is playing summer league hoops and a lot of pros have been doing that for a very long time and nobody seemed to care then. I’m not talking about the NBA summer leagues either. I’m talking about local run leagues like the Drew League here in Los Angeles.
Back in the day it was the Real Run League down in Dominguez that would routinely feature local hoops legends doing their thing just for the sake of playing. I never once turned on ESPN and saw anyone debating if it was a good idea for Paul Pierce or Baron Davis to be balling during the summer.
Nobody ever raised so much as an eyebrow at the notion of NBA players participating in competitions at Rucker Park so why should there be any concern over Deron Williams playing in Turkey?
The ignorance of the general public is laughable on this subject. It’s not as if D-Will is going to play for some misfit squad of semi-pros where he’ll face the likes of the Hanson Brothers or Ogie Ogilthorpe. This is a full-fledged professional league with full-fledged medical staffs. That is not the case for most summer leagues here in the states.
So why the concern now?
This all reeks of NBA propaganda. David Stern is a victim of his own gains. It was he who sought to expand basketball to all corners of the globe. Now here we stand with a league that has left its players to their own devices. We’re talking about pros that love their jobs so if another opportunity arises they’re going to jump on it faster than Shaq would at a broadcasting job.
Should Kobe, or any other pro, decide to take their talents overseas there is no cause for alarm. If an injury occurs in Istanbul or Chicago it is all the same. Kobe will not have cheated the NBA or its fans. It is the NBA that has cheated its players and fans.
The other piece of pointless propaganda is the threat of an NBA contract being voided should an overseas injury occur.
What, you mean a contract that won’t be honored if the lockout lasts into the start of the regular season? Do you mean a contract that might not even exist anymore if a new CBA declares widespread pay cuts?
Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this Kobe’s career we’re talking about? As in his livelihood. Because if so then it’s on him whether or not he’s willing to take the risk. Sure, it would absolutely affect my Lakers should Kobe limp back from Italy. But why did he go over there to play in the first place?
This is bigger than the NBA. We’re not talking about the end of basketball just because there is a lockout in the United States. No league is bigger than the game. If the NBA folds the game will still be played and so long as they’re paying guys to do so then the best talent will always gravitate towards getting a check for doing what they love.
All of these silly notions are much ado about nothing. Just pointless propaganda meant to scare the public into pressuring players that have no concern for the worries of outside voices.
If Kobe wants to play in Turkey, China, Italy or even Lithuania I only have one thing to say – enjoy your stay!