It’s interesting watching the players union use the international stage as a way to combat the owners in the NBA lockout. Not only are more players stepping out daily indicating that playing overseas is an option, these leagues are also coming up with creative ways to entice players to make the leap.
Areas like equity in teams and revenue splits could make a difference in the smaller contract options most international teams can offer. Oddly enough, those options are items the players union would like the NBA owners to take a look at to assist with the financial short falls especially for smaller market teams. Add to that the agents in discussions to put together “all-star” teams to tour markets in Asia and it seems as if the players’ association is trying to cover all bases.
In a letter sent to all 450 NBA players, Union chief Billy Hunter said the following:
This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement,” Hunter said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “It is important for owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances.”
Hunter said, “If the owners will not give our players a forum in which to play basketball here in the United States, they risk losing the greatest players in the world to the international basketball federations that are more than willing to employ them.”
Playing overseas will require more work on the NBA players parts-or their agents. Things like insurance aren’t going to be automatic and negotiating an out clause is extremely important. The tables are turning and a lot of these guys will have to consult with their old AAU, high or college teammates. In some cases they might need to consult a former NBA teammate like Stephon Marbury- he’s an advocate of it and has plans to return to China. Or A.I. who didn’t even last a half-season in Turkey.
Unlike the NFL (whose is actually rumored to be extremely close to a new labor deal) and the NHL before it. Due to Stern’s push for international recognition (which was a smart model) the upper elcholon of players have options not available to players during the lockout in 1998.
The NBA would like to reduce costs in all areas by $50 million and has just taken the move of laying off 11% of it’s league office workforce in New York, New Jersey and abroad.
It’s summer so it’s really too soon to panic. But, my mantra is still, “No missed games!!”