Saturday, August 16, 2008

Europe Making Noise In All Sports

Josh Childress - the guy that started the trend to Europe. Can we expect to see a 2K9 Eurobasket Game?

As many have spoken about in recent months, the NRL continues to attempt to find a way to halt the exodus of players chasing the pot of gold in Europe. Currently American basketball, specifically the NBA, is beginning to see glimpses of the same situation evolving within their competition.

Once upon a time the NBA was regarded as the pinnacle of the basketball world,…the best money and the best working conditions. This is not necessarily true today thanks largely to the struggling US dollar and a little thing called tax.

This year’s NBA off-season has sent whispers through the basketball circles as it has progressed. It began with the announcement of a handful of mid-level players opting to take up lucrative offers with various European teams. Over there, players like this can come a dime a dozen. There were no All-Stars jumping ship. The basketball talent pool is heavily populated with this caliber player and, as a result, no one really blinked an eye.

That was until last week when NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James said they would not sign contract extensions until they heard what Europe has to offer.

Both players have said publicly that they would look at European offers if any matched the $50 million USD they currently receive. And yes, teams in Greece and Russia are interested at this price.

This $50 million would also be taken straight to the bank,…in full. These clubs pay the tax any player incurs, as well as paying for accommodation and transportation.

Meanwhile in the NBA these guys pay their own tax (which by the way is enough for you and I to live on comfortably for quite some time) and the rest of the deal is up to them,…car(s), house(s),…everything. Doesn’t seem like much of a decision, does it?

Europe will undoubtedly put up a formidable fight for some of these high profile NBA players. However, I look for the NBA to quickly act by changing their collective bargaining agreement with the players. If successful in resolving this quickly and keeping their players happy at home, I look for this to be a passing trend and idle threat. At best, the overseas market will continue to poach those mid-rangers, but the big fish will stay in the home pond.

The Americans will do whatever it takes to keep the NBA at the top of the basketball world. If it means moving the goal posts a little, so be it. They will simply find a way to make it happen.

In a way, I liken this battle to parenting a head-strong child. You can enter into a stand-off and flex your muscles, which usually ends with emotional decisions and rebellion. Or you can recognize that maybe some concessions and changes probably need to be made for the good of keeping the family unit strong and in tact. As an authority figure, you just do your best to stay one step ahead in each potential patch of turbulence.

The point I am trying to make is that I think the NRL can learn something from the way this NBA saga pans out, especially if they wish to remain the premier rugby league competition in the world. If they don’t make some type of change soon, their rugby league family will disintegrate before their eyes.

You can read my article every Saturday in the Townsville Bulletin.

1 comment:

PaulieDanger said...

A couple other things to consider when it comes to Americans signing overseas.

1. The tax on guys making that much money is about 40%.

2. The US$ is incredibly weak to the Euro right now, so $50million is much less for a European team than it is to an American team.

3. European teams can offer (like they did to Earl Boykins) percentages of sponsorships and merchandising. Players can essentially be co-owner/players in Europe, which is against NBA bylaws.

All that said, I don't think it's realistic to think Kobe or LeBron will actually sign to a European team. These teams lack the media deals to keep top NBA stars in the public awareness. I honestly think that the top players, especially the ones with option years coming up at the end of the '08/9 season are just posturing for their negotiations.