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Berry Tramel: NBA players' threat to go overseas is weak

by Berry Tramel Published: July 17, 2011

Deron Williams has gone bold Turkey. The New Jersey Nets point guard says he has officially signed to play with a Turkish team during the NBA lockout.

Other NBA superstars threaten the same career change. Kevin Durant mentioned it. So did Dwyane Wade. Amar'e Stoudemire and Kobe Bryant, too.

No basketball over here, we'll go over there. That's the stance. No paychecks over here, no problem. Europe and Asia pay good money, if not necessarily dollars, for jump shots that swish the net.

Sounds good in theory. But sorry. Doesn't pass the smell test.

There's no accounting for Williams, who isn't who we thought he was anyway, having torpedoed the stately Utah Jazz last season. Write off Williams as the exception to the rule.

The curious cases of Durant and other superstars smack of pure negotiating bluster. Stars cast a wayward eye overseas, owners grow antsy.

Well, that's better strategy than giving David Stern a wedgie, but not by much.

The players want us to believe they'll sign on to play in venues and under conditions wholly inferior to the NBA standard?

In case no one has noticed, the NBA is lavish living. First-class travel. First-class accommodations. First-class officiating. First-class training staffs.

Nothing against the Besiktas club, but no way can a franchise in Turkey match the glitz and glamour and amenities of the NBA.

Yes, NBA stars spend all summer playing in sweaty gyms in front of empty bleachers. But they do so with absolute freedom to walk away at any point. Sign a contract, and walk-aways become much messier.

And yes, NBA stars spend many a summer playing for their national teams. Serge Ibaka appears headed for a tour with the Spaniards. But such excursions bolster the sport; the NBA and everyone else benefits when players commit to God and country.

This is different. The notion of playing for a team in the Euroleague is romantic, especially when your dander is up at NBA owners who called a lockout and have negotiated in bad faith.

But do you really want to risk your NBA future with potential injury in Europe? The whole NBA/international relationship as it relates to contracts is quite muddy.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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