Dirk Nowitzki. Kevin Durant. Dwayne Wade.
All of those guys are NBA superstars and all of them can't help but feel like mulling their options to play abroad, which is understandable during the NBA lockout, but only so as far as staying competitive and sightseeing.
But as far as making a statement to the NBA owners and its fans, it's almost like a copout.
The NBA season is in shambles right now thanks to two sides that couldn't agree to a straight split down the middle of income and each side blaming the other for refusing to negotiate properly. We expected the owners to put the onus on the players-and they did. They conjured up one final ultimatum last week, a take-it-or-leave-it offer. And the players especially, and rightfully so, were just as grounded as the owners were, going so far as to reject the offer, decertify and sue the NBA, all within two days.
O.K. that made a statement-to some, it was tough statement and to others, it was just plain stupid statement.
Taking the next step, a player's own personal ultimatum of going abroad, though, won't make the resonating, long-term impactful statement that says I'm willing to fight to get this season started. And, not to say that a handful of guys dictate the image of the entire NBA, but if superstars like Nowitzki, Durant and Wade end up signing overseas, many will generalize that players as a whole have given up on salvaging a season that fans still hope to see.
This is why the thought of charity games and the players creating their own league makes sense. They can stay home, as close as possible to lockout sources and news, while remaining competitive. They would also face less restriction-they would not be tied to a contract preventing their ability to return to their NBA teams if and when the lockout is over like some of the foreign contracts players who have decided to play abroad have agreed to.
And we would all be naïve if we didn't strongly believe that money is also somewhat of a factor in players going abroad. However, these players make enough money to live comfortably at home for a year, no matter who the player and what his salary is, assuming that the entire NBA season won't even happen. And, they will probably still have money to spare for traveling.
Key NBA players have already left and more are ready to go. Deron Williams is playing in Turkey. Tony Parker is playing in France. The Nuggets are half the roster they were before the lockout-Wilson Chandler, J.R Smith, Ty Lawson, Kenyon Martin and Danilo Gallinari are all overseas. And, to think, Kobe Bryant is still interested in foreign ball.
Nevertheless-as paradoxical as this sounds-players going abroad is like working from home. Their job right now is to fight for a season, and, although there's no rule stating they don't have to be in America to do that, their physical presence would show their bosses-both Billy Hunter and David Stern-that they are dedicated and seriously willing to work hard for the long term.