July 18, 2011
As we've stated several times in this space, the biggest story of the NBA lockout so far, apart from its existence, has been Deron Williams' decision to sign with the Turkish club Besiktas should the NBA cancel some games next season. It was a bold move, and one that could convince other stars to follow suit.
While playing overseas has seemed like an intelligent option for some players during the lockout, the option is mysterious enough that we're still learning things about what playing in Europe entails. For Williams, things got a lot more complicated in a matter of a few days. Because he signed with a club that just had its assets frozen, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com. Daren Butler has more details for Reuters.com (via EOB):
A Turkish court jailed the coach and deputy chairman of Istanbul club Besiktas pending trial on Wednesday in a match-fixing investigation which has overshadowed preparations for the new soccer season, media reports said.
The Istanbul court has already jailed 26 people including the chairman of champions Fenerbahce, who feature highly in the probe, and the latest ruling targeted a second of the city's "Big Three" clubs which dominate Turkish football.
However, Turkey's soccer federation has said it will not launch its own investigation until the indictment is prepared, effectively confirming Fenerbahce as champions who can take their place in the lucrative Champions League next season.
This particular scandal applies to the soccer club Besiktas, but, as with most sporting teams in Europe, the same organization overseas both its soccer and basketball teams. So while the basketball team may not have fixed games, it will receive indirect punishment just by virtue of being associated with the soccer team.
It's a bummer for Williams, who may now not be able to play in Turkey, unless he wants to be paid in coffee and baklava. In a broader sense, though, this incident helps underscore the fact that any American player who decides to do a sabbatical in Europe is entering a world he doesn't quite understand. The on-court differences are somewhat clear, but the basketball cultures, including what goes on behind the scenes, are much different. What at first glance may seem like a fun way to spend a year could be an uncomfortable and confusing situation.
Perhaps this scandal will end Deron's Turkish sojourn before it starts. If he does end up making the trip, he's sure to run into some more uncomfortable moments like this one. Culture shock is a fact of a move like this one.
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