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Aside from all the NFL mayhem and the MLB trade deadline, the biggest news in sports has to be about NBA stars bolting to play in Europe.
It started with one of the NBA’s best point guards, Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets, openly discussing the advantages of heading overseas while the lockout is in order. Once that sprung, lower tier stars began talks of doing the same, and now we’re even to the point where Kobe Bryant is even contemplating the jump.
But perhaps the biggest name to throw his eggs into the European basket: Keyon Dooling. Yes, you read that right. Dooling is the back-up point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, but his biggest title lies in the NBPA as Vice President. When the Vice President of the Union is abandoning hopes of a season next year to dash overseas, well, then there are some serious issues at hand that need to be addressed when the upcoming bargaining sessions resume.
The owners and the players are set to start negotiations again in the first week of August. It’s not likely that any real bargaining will take place, rather the meeting is a means of gathering together and discussing where everyone is standing.
So while the owners continue to sit on their hands, the players are arranging other jobs, which actually give them a serious upper hand when negotiations commence.
What you really have to ask yourself is: Is all this a ploy to grab the NBA owners’ attentions, frighten the owners into losing their players and an entire season, and, ultimately, no profits at all? Because if it is, it doesn’t seem very ethical on the players’ part to expedite this type of leverage at the fans’ expense.
The league — both owners and players — can’t afford this nonsense to continue. Fans are now starting to form opinions on players bolting to Europe. Is it a copout? Is it smart? It certainly doesn’t contribute to their image in any positive way. But the same goes for the owners. Fans are now starting to notice as the owners — multi upon multi millionaires in the first place — sit on the sidelines and allow these players, their players, leave their league for other opportunities abroad. It really just reveals the greediness and stubbornness on their part.
A lot needs to happen in the next month to move toward a common goal. Until progress is made, I wouldn’t be surprised if bigger names continue to flirt with the idea of playing somewhere else next season and letting the NBPA and owners fight this one out, while they’re relying on a stable paycheck and touring the world playing ball. And all while that continues to happen, the image and of the NBA — the one that improved mightily over the past few seasons — as well as the state of the actual business will continue to soil and rot in front of fan’s faces.