With the recent NBA lockout still happening, there have been some pretty loud noises from key players across the league about playing overseas if the lockout persists. This time it’s not Europe they are talking about, but China.
Yes it is all hearsay and rumors, but we thought it would be a little fun to put together a brief round-up of players who’ve expressed interest in playing in the People’s Republic. Let the rumor-mill begin!
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers):
“The one thing about basketball is it’s a global sport now, so you can play anywhere you want to….As far as myself, I just train. I just train and be prepared for anybody that calls, whether the NBA starts again or a team in Europe or a team here in China decides to call, then I’ll be ready….”
Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic):
“I’m not at liberty to talk about it,” he said, “but there’s a huge possibility about me going to China or me going overseas to play basketball.”
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors):
“China is looking promising,” Curry said via text message. “There’s no deal yet on the table, but my agent is going to entertain offers and see what happens. If it works, I’ll go.”
Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns):
“I’d love to play overseas,” Nash wrote to The Arizona Republic. “It may be difficult with three kids but I’d love to do it.”
When talking about the possibilities of where Nash might end up, his agent Duffy mentioned:
“There may be a lot more flexibility in China….They’d be so excited to have them.”
Considering the huge sponsorship deal Steve Nash has with Chinese shoe manufacturer Lu You, we don’t believe this is too far-fetched of an idea….
Miami Heat alpha-dog Dwyane Wade and future-MVP Kevin Durant have also been coy on the subject of coming to China, with Wade not ruling out going to Europe, and Durant saying that he’d ‘love to try something new’ during the Tianjin leg of his China promotional tour.
There is nothing confirmed for whether or not the cream of NBA talent would come to China to be integrated into CBA teams like Shanghai’s own Sharks team, or if an assortment of players would be organized into barnstorming teams that would travel for exhibition games throughout the country.
Meanwhile, in a sign that perhaps the lockout might really be more than just a likelihood, Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz has just signed a one-year contract with Bestikas, an Istanbul team playing in the Turkish basketball league. Bestikas is the same team that employed the services of one Allen Iverson for a brief spell last year.
One figure that hasn’t divulged what he’ll do next is Lebron James. His Chinese following only second to Kobe and recently-retired Yao Ming, Lebron has kept mum on his China plans so far. Lebron is no slouch in the globalist department: there were rumblings several years ago regarding James playing in pre-meltdown Greece, and his somewhat ambitious interest in mastering Mandarin as part of his plan for world domination was also reported several years ago.
We do hope that Lebron manages to brush up on his China-related geopolitics: the two-time MVP recently irked Taiwanese sports officials by failing to sufficiently differentiate between Taiwan and China in the promotional title (“China Tour 2011”) for his August stops in Taipei, Xian, Chengdu and Shanghai. Officials were reportedly in such a huff as to consider revoking Lebron’s entry into the Republic of China, aka Taiwan, aka Not-China.
But if the 2012 CBA season does manage to include genuine top-flight NBA talent, then there may actually be something to look forward to this time around. Who knows, maybe this will be the catalyst that the CBA needs in order to stop being so perpetually crappy.
By Patrick Keefe