Sunday, July 10, 2011

Deron Williams Misses The Boat

So while speaking to the press about his Turkish Delight of a $5 million NBA lockout bypass, temporary Net Deron Williams spoke of an exodus of NBA talent to foreign soil. If the contract cap cut goes through, and players like Kobe Bryant get taken down to $11 million a year, sez the point guard, he's heard from 10 to 15 other players who are willing to follow his lead.

To which I say, umm... rhymes with full snit, and if not, D-Will, name the names.

See, here's the problem with European Vacation or Chinese Fortune; it generally comes without big endorsement dollars, and certainly comes without the comforts of home. That's why, more than the dollars of Mark Cuban et al, the NBA has done better on foreign talent than the Euro leagues. If you want to get the ad dollars, you come to America. It's what we still do best.

Now, if China well and truly becomes the world's leading economy in all things, rather than just manufacturing and dirty, dirty power? You might have a situation. But one suspects that franchises that operate under a communistic collusionary state with central planning and market efficiencies, especially when it comes to labor, aren't going to be terribly willing to just pony up tens of millions in guaranteed deals, the way that American clubs in a relentlessly competitive situation have been.

No, if Williams and NBPA head Billy Hunter really want to exert something approaching leverage over the NBA, it would be this: the NBA is damned near unique in major team sports for the draw of its stars. Give me five guys wearing officially sanctioned Heat uniforms or LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and three guys from the Y wearing Heatesque gear, and I'm watching the Heatesque. Every time. Especially if the Heatesque are playing the Bullish, with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and two guys from the Y.

If the NBA wants to lock the players out... and the fans care as much or more about the players than the teams... then why shouldn't the players form their own teams, play their own games, and tell Ye Olde Association to have a good time with their closed gyms?

It's not breach of contract to play for another team when your current one doesn't exist. It's also just about the only thing that the NBPA can do, because there's no way that EuroThreat will bring anyone shaking and trembling to the table. But the idea of an American businessman (or six, or twelve -- honestly, it won't take that many markets and that many players for people to get excited about this, especially if the new Players League has decent refs, similar rules and small innovations like a single-round elimination tournament and low ticket prices) making money off of the players that the league has spent so much time and money developing into the public consciousness?

Now that, my friends, is leverage. And if the Association wants to lock its way into oblivion with its stars, the stars will walk. It's not as if they, or a fair amount of the fans at this point, give too much of a damn about the laundry.

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