First, NBA star Deron Williams decided to take his talents across the waters and into Turkey, then reports of higher profiled NBA stars considering the opportunity to play in European leagues flipped the basketball world on its head.
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to today’s edition of “The NBA Lockout: Yes, It’s Real”! After a mega season, this is what the greatest professional sports league in America has come to. A Lockout! Fans across the world were treated to an electric NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. Unless your brain dead, you know the Mavericks bullied the Heat in 6 games to become the 2011 NBA Champions. Record numbers in television ratings were set for the NBA Finals and playoffs, but in the back of everyone’s mind was the lurking word “Lockout”.
This just isn’t any old lockout, the NBA owners (David Stern included) rolled up their sleeves and loosened their expensive ties to battle the NBA Players Union in an intense back and forth debate over…(wait for it…)…money.
To true NBA fans and writers, we’ve seen this situation before during the asterisk season of 1999. The players and owners held out as long as they could, but eventually folded because those golden checks started disappearing. The difference with today’s current NBA lockout is the owners won’t fold, hell; the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) proposal that was sent to the players from the owners was a joke. The uncertainty of a 2011-212 NBA season forced the hand of some of the world’s greatest players to look for other ways to earn money. That place would be overseas.
This wasn’t some spur of the moment decision that NBA All-Star Deron Williams made. According to Williams in an interview with ESPN’s Chris Broussard for ESPN The Magazine, Williams, the players and the owners knew the lockout was coming two years ago. As a business man, avoiding any lapses in your company’s income forces the brain to find other avenues of business. The choice to play for Turkey’s professional team Besiktas was the option that was presented to the New Jersey Nets star. Williams was a member of the 2008 United States Olympic Gold medal team that reassured the world who still sits atop the basketball throne. From that fame, the world knows who Deron Williams is.
After the Miami Heat planned their union during that same gold medal run, players wanted to utilize the Heat’s blueprint and form “Super Teams”. This changed the relationship between owners and their cash cows, forever. The result of that union in Miami allowed the owners to push for a salary cap change for every NBA franchise.
A salary cap change means a deduction in pay for players like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and more money for the owners. One thing about NBA players, they desire that green paper. If you’re a superstar like Kobe Bryant or a role player like Sonny Weems, waiting for the owners and players to have that “Come to Jesus” meeting isn’t helping your financial situation.
This is why Deron Williams decision to head overseas is eye opening for the NBA. Williams has opened the doors for a mass exodus of NBA athletes to play for European franchises. If a European team constructs a contract that pays well and allows an NBA player to rejoin their respective NBA franchise after the lockout is over, then you copy Deron Williams’ moves. Get paid, play the game you love, stay physically fit and experience an entirely different culture. That’s a great deal.
As of now, the NBA Lockout is here to stay. Hold off on that NBA League Pass subscription for next season or the constant viewing of NBATV for new highlights. This stalemate is going to take awhile.