Details of the six-game, four-continent exhibition world tour by NBA players set to begin at the end of October during the NBA lockout have not been finalized, but 14 of the 18 players approached have contractually committed to the tour, according to ESPN. Deals with all 18 are expected to be completed Sunday night.
Atlanta business mogul Calvin Darden has been putting the tour together with the agents of various NBA all-stars for nearly three months. The list of 18 players that he has approached includes reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, all of which have signed and are contractually committed to play. According to ESPN, Tyson Chandler also has agreed to participate in the tour.
One of the few superstars who is not expected to participate is Dwight Howard, who turned down a chance to play in order to rest from a taxing overseas trip he recently took that included visits to 15 countries.
In a trip that could resemble Team USA's takeover of the world stage at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, other all-stars such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Amar'e Stoudemire, Russell Westbrook, Carlos Boozer and Kevin Love are also expected to participate. Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett, among a few others, are also contemplating joining the tour.
Since news of the tour surfaced last week, nine more players have expressed interest in taking part, a source said, and two more may be added.
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The tour is scheduled to start with a game in Puerto Rico on Oct. 30. It will then feature two games in London, one in Macau and two, back-to-back, in Australia, ending on Nov. 9. Each game will be staged in an arena that holds at least 15,000 fans.
Darden is hoping to broadcast the games in as many international markets as possible and perhaps in the United States as well.
The players will be paid, receiving salaries ranging from six figures up to $1 million. Some of the money generated by the tour will be donated to charity. Those fees would have to be covered above and beyond insurance, travel and security costs in four foreign locales.
The tour would be the biggest lockout event NBA players have ever staged. While locked out in 1998, several stars played an exhibition game in Atlantic City. Current players have staged several charity games over the past month, most notably the The South Florida All-Star Classic featuring James and Wade, played in Miami last Saturday.