The above applies not to basketball as a whole, or even pro hoops, but rather the NBA. That there is professional basketball that this does not apply to would have seemed, to many NBA fans not so long ago, a contradiction with the last statement. Now we know better. Sportsvssports will be proud to issue links to vendors who sell Besiktas jerseys if Kevin Durant joins DWill there. Check out this list! While things are happening in non-North American pro leagues, things are happening in the ‘labour dispute,’ or at least, the same thing is happening in it.
A lot of players have signed to play in Europe, China, or the Middle East. There are pro leagues elsewhere, but NBA players, some of them significant, have been signed to teams in the traditional basketball countries of the Old World, plus apparently Denver Nuggets want to play in China. I started making an ‘all-overseas’ team, but it really looks like two teams. By my count there are currently 22 NBA players who have guaranteed rotation spots and name recognition who have bolted for ‘foreign’ squads, and almost as many who are close to inking deals. Since there are only about 300 rotation players, who correspond almost exactly with the players who are known to fans*, this means there could easily be 13% or more of the league’s players who matter on overseas rosters by the time the first regular season game is actually missed.
This is very different from the last ‘labour stoppage,’ and sets up some interesting scenarios, including the only way sportsvssports sees the players getting anything out of the owners (here we go yo). That best case scenario for the players involves a lot of them playing elsewhere, which the players union does not and cannot officially encourage. If Durant signs with Besiktas, they will most certainly turn around and offer ESPN and/or competitors broadcast rights to the highest profile pro basketball games in the world. A network with the freedom to do so will jump all over it, and Euroleague basketball will ultimately end up on North American screens. If this results in a big enough revenue jump to cause an ‘arms race’ in the European leagues, then the players may find themselves with the bargaining chip they needed all along: a paying alternative.
This is where I started ripping apart Chris Sheridan, before I realized that the first set of predictions on this blog was an unmitigated disaster, in which I pointed out even at the time that one of those predictions was completely obvious. That’s the only one I got right. The salient point is that no-one knows when it ends, right now. Not Bill Walton (that grin is not because he knows something, it’s because he knows nothing), not Sheridan, and certainly not Hunter, Stern, or the rest of the nitwits at the bargaining table. If they’re 3% off, which seems to be the case, then they are also $123 million apart for each year of the deal. This is actually an overestimate, as basketball revenues will drop significantly as a result of this nonsense. Also, there’s the minor detail of every other clause in the entire CBA, on which there is literally no indication that any binding agreements have been reached. Gitmek Besiktas Gitmek!
*The exceptions are guys like Adam Morrison and Jimmer Freddette, who are not rotation players but live on in reputation as such because of ignorance.