Somewhere, David Stern is smiling.
The ink from Josh Childress’ deal with the Grecian basketball team, Olympiakos, has yet to dry and there are already clamorings of “why, Josh? Why?”
Reports have claimed Olympiakos have signed him to a three-year contract for roughly $32 million. That’s definitely not chump change, especially with a strong Euro.
So why is David Stern smiling?
Because he has no idea how momentous this summer has been. I’m not talking about Baron Davis to the Clippers or Elton Brand to the Sixers. What’s happening now is more powerful than the Tim Donaghy scandal because it clearly and directly affects the on-court product.
Basketball players are going against the grain and are choosing not to play in the NBA.
Carlos Arroyo, Earl Boykins, Juan Carlos Navarro, Carlos Delfino, Primoz Brezec have joined Childress as legitimate, rotational NBA players who have signed with European clubs.
David Stern is smiling because LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade haven’t skipped across the sea.
Dave, stop smiling! You crazy, crazy guy!
The “poaching” of lower-to-mid level NBA players is alarming. It is not alarming only because of the financial implications of enlarging the field of possible basketball employers, it is alarming because of what it may continue to do to NBA benches.
I talked to my dad about the differences between NBA basketball in the 1980’s and basketball of what was then the late 1990’s. He talked about a deterioration of the NBA bench.
The wood of an NBA bench rots as it ages. And this wood is in no way pertifying anytime soon.
The players in the 6-12 positions have changed.
Some place blame on league expansion. Having 30-something teams in a league won’t dilute the talent pool but it will dilute the on-court talent.
Others point to the loss of “fundamentals” amongst American youth. The three point line has destroyed the intricacies of the game, they say. Everyone’s too concerned with either dunking or shooting a long-range bomb. This is understandable. Most only work enough to get rewarded, right? The All-Star game has always featured a three-point competition and a slam dunk competition. I guess that can go without saying…
A few are pointing at the commodity of youth and how that plays into bench selection.
What’s too often overlooked is how an American basketball exodus will affect the NBA bench. Some say that this will dilute the field of talent. More quality players will have more options so the NBA will invariably end up will less quality players.
But will it necessarily dilute the on-court product?
Does each action have an opposite an equal reaction? Will American players invading European clubs force more quality European players into the States? Is there going to be a give-and-go play, of sorts?
It’s clearly too early to say but it’s very interesting to speculate.