By: Drew Marshall
The National Basketball League does not receive the same national attention as the more popular leagues in theUnited States. Though it still receives plenty of fans, the current lockout seems to be driving away star players to other countries and other leagues. Multiple super stars of the NBA have reportedly signed with teams inTurkeyorChinaand more seem to be on the way. If the players keep leaving, the NBA will have to worry about losing fans and, in result, revenue.
The most notable player that could be on the movie is Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Bryant has been seen playing in the Drew League, aLos Angelessummer league for NBA and college players. The league has received more attention with the presence of superstars like Bryant. He impressed the crowd with his 43 point game, showing no problems with his previously injured right knee. Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley commented that Bryant was “fresh” and that “everything was good” in reference to his mobility. Along with his 43 points, Bryant scored a buzzer-beater to seal the win for his team. This summer has been filled with players showing up in small games across the country, and it was almost seems like the players are not concerned with the status of the NBA. The reaction from the fans was “mind-boggling”, according to Smiley, as fans rushed the court as the game ended. With those types of fanatics and that care-free atmosphere, Bryant seemed content to play outside the NBA.
Along with his play in the Drew League, Bryant is rumored to have agreed to play with the Chinese team Shanxi Zhongyu while the NBA sorts out the labor disputes. Owner Wang Xing Jiang stated that Bryant had agreed to signing terms and he would begin practicing with the team on October 1. It is not yet clear if the NBA players will be allowed to play inChina, but Chinese Basketball Association officials have been meeting to consider a rule that would forbid NBA players from signing contracts with Chinese basketball teams. A rule like that would putChinaout as an option for any NBA player that is not currently a free agent. This does not, however, stop the problem at its source, as many players have entertained the idea of playing inTurkey, including New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams. Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dirk Nowitzki are all rumored to be interested in playing overseas, possibly inChinaif the NBA would allow it during the lockout.
The increasing possibilities for all NBA players have indeed succeeded in making the NBA look weak and feeble in their negotiations. It seems as if the NBA cannot control their own players during the work stoppage. If they don’t act quickly, they may not be able to stop them from leaving the league. Though the players seem to only want to leave while the lockout is in place, that short amount of time could turn into a much more formidable amount should the agreements come to an impasse. The NBA, therefore, must decide what to do with these players before they all choose to leave the league. The lack of devotion shown by star Kobe Bryant is a good example of the way the players must think about the NBA as a whole. If the players were happy with their standing in the NBA, they would not be so quick to risk injury playing pick-up games in the Drew League or receive offers from teams overseas. Bryant may just be threatening to leave in order to speed up the collective bargaining agreements, but the NBA would be wise to listen. If not, the league risks losing its brightest stars and, subsequently, a large chunk of revenue in the upcoming season, if there is one.