April 18, 2011
No matter how amazing these playoffs have already been and are likely to continue to be, the sad fact of this NBA season is that it will almost certainly be followed by a long lockout. It's a depressing thought, and one which most would likely not consider after a terrific weekend of games, but life isn't always a world of gumdrop forests and Serge Ibaka(notes) blocks at the rim.
The impending lockout has put some players in a tough position. While they are still under contract with teams and will probably have to return to work at some point during a hypothetical 2011-12 season, these athletes still want to play their chosen sports as much of they can. Could some go overseas during a prolonged break from the NBA?
"If the conflict lasts, I think I'll go and play in France so that my fans can see me up close. I could really progress abroad in a big Euroleague team, but I do not want that. I already had my glory and titles. If the lockout lasts, I will probably go to play to Villeurbanne."
Villeurbanne, in case you're wondering, is located near Lyon and has been part of France since 1394. Big ups to Wikipedia.
It is entirely possible that Parker will opt to return to his homeland in case of a lockout and play for a French club team, but let me inject some healthy skepticism into this discussion. First, Parker's comments to the French press must be taken with a boulder of salt, because it's extremely unlikely that he'd respond to a question about playing there with an emphatic "no." Second, it's hard to imagine Parker playing ball for Villeurbanne for a few months and then returning to the San Antonio Spurs after the lockout with no controversy. Parker signed a four-year contract extension worth $50 million with the Spurs in October, and it's hard to believe they'd be perfectly happy about him running the risk of injury while playing for a French club team. Plus, will union leaders be particularly happy if Parker and others cross the Atlantic while they're locked in a knock-down drag-out brawl with David Stern to improve working conditions? That seems like the opposite of solidarity.
In other words, Parker's playing in Europe would upset everyone except the French fans who love him anyway. Maybe the idea sounds nice to him and it'll happen. I just wouldn't bet on it.