Mon Aug 01 10:50am EDT
The reasons we haven't seen a mass exodus of NBA players to international leagues are multifold, but the biggest part of the wariness behind the hesitancy from international teams to sign NBA-types comes from the knowledge that NBA players will leave the international teams at the drop of a text once the lockout ends. Nobody has put this sort of fear in writing, though. Leave it to the Chinese leagues, however, to try. They didn't even have to plagiarize it without penalty from an American sports site.
Kobe Bryant(notes)? Sure, China, let one of the best players in NBA history come over, as he slums his way through whatever league will take him during the NBA lockout. Even if the lockout ends mid-practice, and Kobe has to jump back to his beloved Los Angeles Lakers once the stalemate ends.
But for any other player looking to play in the Chinese Basketball Association? Even, perhaps, Kobe?
You better stick around. From NIUBBALL.com:
Sina Sports, quoting an anonymous figure connected to the CBA, reported that the Chinese Basketball Association is planning to institute two special new rules for next season in response to the ever-growing list of NBA players who have declared interest towards playing in China: First, teams will not be allowed to include an out-clause into any contract with an active NBA player and second, that each team will be allowed to sign only one active NBA player.
Said the anonymous source, "The CBA isn't the NBA's backyard. If we didn't make a rule about players playing here temporarily, then they'd all just leave in the middle of the season. That would affect our season greatly."
Make a point to read the rest of the post. The CBA knows that hiring NBA stars during the lockout will be good for business, and that the practice is something to try to establish. But as we've seen in other international leagues, teams are dubious when it comes to signing anything less than a major star when it's beyond obvious that the semi-star or average player will split in an instant should the lockout resolve itself.
And you can't blame these teams for that, can you?
If love is the international language, then sport is a close second. And if we remove soccer from the conversation, basketball is the sport just about anyone can pick up on, failing a language connection. And for international coaches and personnel bosses to put their foot down when it comes to passing on the chance to sign a noted NBA player, all for the sake of team chemistry? That's a sound, smart, and gutsy move.
Three things no representative on either side of the NBA lockout would know anything about.