This article is also published at Hoops4Life.com, a basketball fan's site. It is a great place for basketball knowledge, and I figured that you would all enjoy reading this as well.
The NBA is the world leader in basketball right now. The question that David Stern should be asking himself is how long "now" is going to last.
This question is not about the Olympics. I have seen people scared that players going to play for European teams is going to hurt the USA basketball team, but players play for their home country, so that changes nothing for global competition between national teams.
What David Stern needs to be scared of is a whole mess of players moving to Europe to play—and the trend is already beginning. The first name to go overseas was Brandon Jennings. But he was only going there in place of college, and is expected to make a return to the NBA after a year.
However, with the amount of money that European teams are now able to pay players, what is stopping him from moving overseas permanently?
The next player to follow Jennings' example was Josh Childress, who shocked the Atlanta Hawks—as well as the NBA at large—when he announced that he was going to play for European basketball power Olympiakos. Childress should have really scared the NBA, because of the amount of money he received.
Olympiakos front office will pay for all of Childress' living expenses. Pretty nice huh? Well, it sounds even nicer when you add on the $20 million "net" that he will also receive over three years, in addition to the free housing and food. All this for a player who didn't even start in the NBA last season.
In 2007, promising player Tiago Splitter was drafted with the 27th pick by the San Antonio Spurs. He then decided to sign with Tau Ceramica, a Spanish team, for eight times what the Spurs were allowed to pay him under NBA rules.
In Europe, basketball is not a business, basketball is everything. Money is no object for the top teams, including Olimpiakos, which is owned by billionares. They will take a loss in profit just to beat their archrivals Panathiakos.
And you thought that the Celtics-Lakers was exciting? That is child's play. There have been reported incidents of team supporters aiming to physically hurt players on an opposing team's players out of pure hatred.
So what are these victory-crazed Euro-teams going to do next?
Josh Smith, also of the Atlanta Hawks, is not close to coming to a contract extension with the Hawks, and he has not ruled out Europe as a possibility.
Neither has Ben Gordon of the Chicago Bulls, who is a certified British citizen. He is entertaining the idea, and even though it doesn't seem likely, it is slowly creeping it's way into multiple players minds.
But the Euro-League wouldn't make a run at one of the best players in the NBA, would they? The same Olympiakos that stole Childress are reportedly considering going after LeBron James in 2010 if he is a free agent.
According to SportsIllustrated.com, the billionaire owners of the Olympiakos could be willing to pay upwards of $40-$50 million a year to add James to their team.
Especially if they give him the "net" pay deal they gave Childress, could you blame James if he took $50 million a year for luxury expenses?
So are you scared yet, David Stern? Because if you aren't, you better be prepared for battle. Some of these Euro teams have deep pockets, no limit, and only want to win.
That is a lot more than you can say about any NBA team.
I'm Joe W.
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