Basketball is an international sport and the third most popular sport globally (behind soccer and Cricket which is due to about 1 billion Indian fans). From Beijing to Boston, the game is played by billions of enthusiasts, with smack-talk and shot calling occurring in dozens of different languages, and on a variety of flat-top surfaces.
Amidst the urbanization that is changing the face of cities and towns globally, basketball has emerged as the sport of the 21st century–playable so long as you have a ball, a hoop and some concrete beneath your feet. While soccer was once considered the “purest of sports”, it has now conceded that moniker to a sport that can be played everywhere, by anyone.
And for that, the rest of the world has grown enamored with a game once played by upper-class, white males on hardwood floors in Springfield, MA. The game of gentlemen has now become a game of the people. Power to the people!
Well that was until the money-grubbing, big-business Stern Era that forced a lockout upon the NBA during one of its most popular (and watched) years. By forcing a lockout, the NBA business d-bags feel they can rein back in money from players’ salaries, and use that money to recoup losses by their own bad business prospects (after all, how fucking hard is it to make money off the NBA!!?! Sorry MJ). The logic is simply: force players to take what they can get, by compromising their financial security. I call it “courtside Reaganomics” and former player, Rasheed Wallace, unabashedly calls it a form of “slavery”.
But Stern and his army of cronies forgot one thing previously alluded to: that basketball is international. Europe loves basketball, and pays damn well for NBA-caliber players, even those that aren’t that good. Just look at Allen Iverson or Stephen Marbury. They got/get paid bank to clown on lesser players in packed international stadiums, and they know that everyone in the audience is rocking their jersey and shoe swag.
Superstar players like Deron Williams are realizing this fact, and the opportunistic Euro league owners are looking to sign one-year contracts with any players willing to take their talents across the pond. Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman of Turkey is even pursing players like Kobe Bryant! I think I’d hate him a lot less wearing red, yellow and white…
So much for leverage, Stern. If players keep calling the NBA’s bluff, I’d suggest getting satellite TV cause TNT, ABC and ESPN are just as mired in this lockout as the NBA execs. So what we’re left with is our players, going overseas to play because America doesn’t know how to run a basketball league. Just, another example of big business outsourcing American “goods” overseas.