Injustices the NBA lockout is causing.
by Kevin Owens /@Waiting4Godunk
I recently sent a text to my brother reading, “I got out of basketball at the perfect time.” Considering the United States is dealing with the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and I am still “job-hunting,” I probably should have chosen my words wiser.
The reason for my animosity toward overseas professional basketball stems from the wave of NBA players committing their lockout futures to various foreign teams. Despite the fact that my career is over, the players I know who still are pursuing their careers, may face an uncertain future.
The NBA lockout will cause a trickle down effect, which will leave many talented American athletes jobless. The NBA players will take the jobs of the best overseas players, who in turn will take the jobs of the average overseas players and so on. Now I know many readers are saying to themselves, “Yes, that is life. Why should the best players in the world not have a team to play for during the lockout?” Well first, thanks for the sympathy, and second, the problem becomes more complex the longer this lockout goes on.
Say the owners decide to continue the lockout and play the NBA season with replacement players. If this were to occur, the replacements would be made up of mainly guys from the overseas market. Can you imagine the backlash these players who decided to cross the picket lines will face? The NBA Players Union would deem such a thing unforgivable. They would be banned from ever stepping foot in an NBA locker room again.
But where is the justice for the overseas players who are getting their jobs taken by these NBA stars crossing the ocean? Where is the Overseas Players Union? You know where it is? It’s nonexistent! Overseas players are at the mercy of the owners. There is no organization to protect you and order a strike.
Say they decide to stop paying you. Well guess what? You are no longer receiving a paycheck. Say they decide to release you out of your guaranteed contract. Then you will be released. You can complain to your agent or write letters to FIBA, but there is no system in place to prevent these injustices. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)
My friend Greg refers to the whole situation as “Reverse Scabbing.” Crossing the invisible line in the sand. But the NBA players don’t care. And why should they? Nobody is telling them this is wrong. And it is not like the contingency of American players abroad have the capability to boycott playing overseas.
It’s a lot like the movie Goodfellas, when Jimmy Conway and Henry Hill sit helpless as Tommy DeVito gets whacked… There is nothing you can do about it. You just have to sit still and take it.
The most confusing aspect of this whole scenario is the logistics behind some of these player’s decisions to go abroad. You are leaving a guaranteed multi-million dollar contract, to go to a non-guaranteed, multi-thousand dollar contract. Owners have already banned together and told players if they are hurt overseas, they can potentially void some of the remaining contract. Why risk all of that over a much smaller contract? Because you want to play? Here is an idea, find a gym, grab your teammates and practice on your own.
The most ridiculous reason I have heard in favor of NBA players going overseas, is the expanding of their brand. Expanding of their brand?! What are they, Cheerios? What brand is there? You are a human being playing basketball. Do you have a personal clothing line? No, then what brand are you referring to? This makes no sense to me.
I can see the headline on some Turkish arena now. “Come See Deron Williams’ Unique Brand of Basketball. Watch as he Dribbles, Passes and Shoots the Basketball.” If I hear one more time about what a good opportunity these players have for expanding their brand, I will literally punch something. The only brand these players will be promoting is Nike, adidas, Reebok and the one brand they are currently fighting against… the NBA.
It is a helpless feeling knowing someone’s job is being outsourced to a guy who will leave the team high and dry once the lockout ends. Unfortunately, that is how it goes. There is no loyalty in this business. These European teams need big name athletes to draw big name sponsors. Until a system is in place to unify all these overseas players, injustices like this will continue unpunished. Maybe that is my calling…