The mainstream consensus from Deron Williams’ decision to play in Turkey during the NBA lockout seems to fall into two camps: 1) It’s a brilliant move! It’ll help Williams stay in shape and keep his game sharp and he’ll get paid (a one-year, $5 million deal). 2) It’s a great move! If Williams opens the flood gates for other NBA stars to play international ball (certainly not a given), it’ll put pressure on the owners to cave on some of their lockout demands!
Nearly everyone likes it … except Stephen A. Smith, who blasted Williams as selfish for taking his talents to Turkey:
A union — any union — is supposed to personify that. They’re supposed to exude togetherness as opposed to coming across as a filthy-rich scab looking to do nothing else aside from bloating his bank account.
What’s lost in all of this, as a result of Williams’ selfishness and Beasley’s stupidity, is how the owners must be feeling right now. Sure, NBA commissioner David Stern may not like the idea of Europe benefiting from the NBA brand without the NBA benefiting themselves. And he’s probably keenly aware that if more stars consider the option of playing overseas (i.e. Kobe Bryant), that it could ultimately prolong a lockout that already appears on the verge of skipping the entire 2011-12 season.
But if Stern were to do the obvious and look deeper, the actions of both Williams and Beasley are far more detrimental to the players than it could ever be for the owners.
Smith, as has been the case during his struggles as a writer/pundit the last couple years, clearly didn’t do his homework or call anyone to try and verify his position. His colleague, Chris Broussard, spoke to Deron Williams, who spoke to NBPA executive director Billy Hunter.
If other stars follow Williams to Europe during the lockout, it could be a blow to the league’s owners, giving the players’ union the leverage it needs to fight off the owners’ demands. Williams said he spoke with the union before agreeing to play in Turkey to make sure he wasn’t damaging its cause. He said NBPA executive director Billy Hunter was in favor of the move.
I don’t think Kobe will make the leap and play for Turkey, but if he does, will Stephen A. Smith write a column calling him dumb, too? [ESPN NY]