CHICAGO — With the NBA Lockout freezing the league in carbonite like Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, the question of whether or not NBA Players under contract should be allowed to play overseas has become violently relevant.
Derron Williams was arguably the first big name to decide he’d rather try his luck across the pond than sit around in limbo waiting for NBA basketball. The floodgates burst open after that as everybody and anybody is trying to secure some sort of contract overseas, whether it be for the money or for (chuckles) the ‘love of the game’. The potential names are a regular who’s-who of NBA superstars.
Derron Williams. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant.
But now the tidal wave is approaching Chicago and potentially threatens the Bulls.
In a way, it already has affected the Bulls. Joakim Noah, about a month ago, decided he wanted to play for the French National team in the World Championship. Now his teammates may be following in his footsteps.
Carlos Boozer told ESPN The Magazine earlier this month that he “definitely plans on playing overseas” if the lockout isn’t resolved.
“If the NBA season gets delayed or postponed,” said Boozer, “I plan on using those months to experience something similar to what I did in the summer of 2008. That’s why, if the lockout continues, I definitely plan on playing overseas.”
He’s not alone either. Luol Deng has also stated his interest in European basketball if the lockout disrupts the season. Deng has already signed up to play for Great Britain, and could potentially play on the Olympic team next summer. Although the Olympics doesn’t effect this NBA season, he’s already suiting up for the Brits EuroBasket 2011 team, who battle China Saturday in his debut.
Deng’s committing to Great Britain, much like Noah committing to France, lies in loyalty more so than money. Deng, born in what is now South Sudan, fled with his family to Britain to escape turmoil and war. “England took me and family in and gave me the chance to do what I do.” said Deng to The Sun. “I’d love to give something back and I can do that through basketball.”
No one is saying they shouldn’t be allowed to play basketball elsewhere, as they are under contract to the Bulls no matter what, but that percisley the problem.
They’re playing elsewhere whilst under contract to the Bulls.
Luol Deng can blow out an ACL and that’s tough luck for the British EuroBasket and Olympic team, but the Bulls suffer in the long run when the NBA starts back up again. Joakim Noah can break his leg and the French National team will be dealt a blow, but Chicago will have to sweep up the crumbs and deal with the consequences of his lengthy recovery.
Carlos Boozer can — well Boozer will have a very successful career as a magician. We all were treated to his outstanding disappearing act in last years playoffs.
It’s a gamble that the players are really forcing onto the fans and the organization. If they want to play competitive basketball, then more power to them. But they have to realize they are commodities in these countries because their value in this one is stupendous.