It seems that each week the NBA lockout continues, the list of current NBA players opting to go overseas in order to play basketball steadily grows. Clubs from Europe and China are not hiding from offering lucrative contracts to entice NBA players to make the move, even if it is for a short amount of time.
With talks between the league’s owners and the NBPA at a standstill, and as more time passes since the players have been a part of competitive action, this trend will continue to rise.
Europe has been responsible for a great deal of talent in the NBA in the U.S., especially in the last two decades. The championship run last season by Dirk Nowitzki only solidified the reality of European-influenced basketball in the NBA to those who still had any lingering doubts.
As for China, basketball is on an extreme rise in popularity. Yao Ming’s stint in the NBA and the 2008 Beijing Olympics exposed China’s immense population to the attractable, exiting performances and personalities of the NBA.
However, most of the elite players in the NBA have yet to confirm or sign with an overseas team, with Deron Williams being one of the exceptions. Superstars like Kobe Bryant, Dwanye Wade and Dwight Howard have all expressed their interest in going overseas in general, even adding that they would welcome hearing offers. Other than that, no action has yet to be further developed.
Further, per the Associated Press, “The Chinese Basketball Association will restrict contracted NBA players from playing for domestic teams in the event the NBA season is canceled, but still will allow free agents, state media reported Friday.”*
China was especially appealing to superstars like Bryant, Wade and Howard because playing in China would be extremely beneficial financially to these players due to China’s market size and the great demand for the NBA by Chinese basketball fans.
Perhaps, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) is thinking what a lot of those in the basketball community are already thinking. As necessary as maintaining the player’s competitive physical and mental state is, the chance that a career could be ended in overseas play is troubling for fans of the game. This especially holds true with franchise players, who not only have a team counting on them to be healthy and prepared, but the team’s entire host city as well.
This sentiment was echoed recently by Amar’e Stoudemire when he assured the Knicks and New York City that he will only be playing for them despite the current lockout. He wrote on his personal Twitter account, “My loyalty is with the State of New York and the NYK’s.”**
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