Should the NBA lockout extend into the regular season, this Kobe Bryant led barnstorming tour through China that’s been discussed could prove to be a welcomed distraction for hoops junkies everywhere. It’s an interesting enough concept in any basketball climate, but played amidst the backdrop of an NBA work stoppage the potential for significant interest is certainly maximized. China is crazy for basketball these days, and anybody who gets a BBM from Kobe inquiring about their interest in teaming up would be crazy not to at least consider making the trip.
In this proposed context, while barnstorming through Asia like the outlaw version of the Dream Team, Team Mamba would be the only show in the NBA Universe. The opportunity for each player to strengthen his individual position as an overseas pitchmen is huge, and might be too enticing for any of the league’s top stars to pass up. The possibility alone is said to have Amar’e Stoudemire looking for somebody to insure his $100 million deal with the Knicks so he can make the trip. This from Frank Isola at The New York Daily News:
Amar’e Stoudemire would consider joining Kobe Bryant’s barnstorming tour through China if the NBA lockout extends into the regular season. According to a person close to the Knicks’ All-Star power forward, Stoudemire would only play if he can be insured in case of injury. The Knicks signed Stoudemire last summer to five-year, $100-million contract despite being unable to get the contract insured because Stoudemire has a pre-existing knee problem and has had surgery for a detached retina. After Stoudemire signed, he honored the Knicks’ request to withdraw from the U.S. national team in order to rest his body for the upcoming season. Stoudemire also suffered a back injury prior to Game 2 of the Knicks’ first-round series with Boston in April and is still not 100%.
If Stoudemire does manage to convince that Gecko or somebody else to insure his deal against injury in a non-NBA sanctioned competition like this would be, that’s great for him in the event he did get injured. It certainly would be pretty devastating, however, for his New York organization if he did go down for any significant portion of the season whenever NBA play does resume. Which adds an additional layer or interesting to this possible barnstorming trip as far as I can tell. Would something like Stoudemire making this trip exert any type of negotiating pressure on a team like his Knicks that could impact these bargaining talks in anyway? Or maybe more directly, could this team Kobe is putting together strengthen the position of the players in general?
The counterpoint to that thought is though, even while the NBA is locked out David Stern’s players would still be overseas helping to grow the game of basketball to a certain extent. I imagine there would be some new fans that Kobe and company would capture as future members of the NBA audience going forward, so at the same time I also wonder how much the collective group of owners would actually hate a trip like this in its totality. I suppose it would come down to whether or not a guy you pay is a guy who’s playing. Regardless, hopefully Amar’e, Kobe, and everybody else doesn’t have time to go because the lockout ends much sooner than we think. There could be some interesting developments to be sure if it doesn’t, but I’d much rather just talk about NBA players playing in the NBA.
Photo Credit: NJ.com