The Most Overblown Story of the Year
Sports fans were treated to a pair of work stoppages this summer. The NFL came to their good senses and ratified a new collective bargaining agreement in the nick of time, so as to not lose any games. The NBA wasn’t so lucky. Nearly two months of the season were sacrificed to achieve labor peace. The silver lining for the ‘Association’ is that no one seemed to care. (Major League Baseball quietly signed a new agreement that goes through the 2016 season.)
That leads me to the point of this blog. We were told once the NBA lockout started that there might be a mass exodus of NBA players taking their talents overseas. Of course, there was always the understanding that they would book the first Virgin Airways flight home the second the lockout was lifted.
Their reasons for going would be varied. The obvious one was to stay in shape during a prolonged work stoppage. It was also an opportunity to earn a little coin when they weren’t receiving NBA paychecks. There was even some talk that the players could put more pressure on the owners by playing abroad.
I never bought into this hysteria. Not for one second. I figured there would be players that would sign contracts and play in foreign countries, but I always believed the reports were overblown. Every day I was reading how team ‘X’ was close to inking a deal with an NBA superstar. Did people really believe the games 50 best players would really be hooping it up in weird gyms and creepy foreign uniforms?
By and large NBA players are spoiled. Eventually the reality of living and playing in a foreign land would set in, and the novelty would wear off. To his credit, New Jersey’s Deron Williams stuck it out in Turkey. He blogged about his experiences and even had his number retired by the team he played for.
Williams was the rare exception. This blog on ESPN.com chronicled every player who went to play in a foreign country. Notice how many were back within weeks and sometimes days of signing a contract.
Maybe social media and the 24/7 news cycle perpetuates these stories, but sometimes people need to take a deep breath and a step back before turning into hyenas when it comes to rumor and speculation.