NBAPA supports players going to Europe

The executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Billy Hunter, speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. The NBA was on the verge of its first work stoppage in 13 years after negotiations over a new labor deal collapsed hours before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, the union representing players said on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)

Per ESPN…

In a memo sent to players on Tuesday night and obtained by ESPN on Wednesday, [Billy Hunter] said the NBPA supports all players “who are taking steps to continue to earn a living, stay in peak competitive shape, and play the game that we love while the unfortunate league-imposed lockout is in place.”

“This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement,” Hunter wrote. “It is important for the owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances.

“If the owners will not give our players a forum in which to play basketball here in the United States, they risk losing the greatest players in the world to the international basketball federations that are more than willing to employ them.”

This support flies in the face of Stephen A. Smith’s assertion that Deron Williams is selfish for signing a one-year deal to play in Turkey. If the players are able to prove that they can find work elsewhere, it will put them in a position of power since it will prove that the owners need them more than they need the owners. Not everyone is going to go overseas, but that doesn’t really change the dynamic within the union. Deron Williams wants to lockout to end just like every other player in the league, whether he plays in Turkey or not.

Here’s an idea — every player that plays elsewhere during the lockout puts 25% of his pay into a slush fund that will be distributed amongst all mid-level and lower players in the union. That way, those rank and file players will keep getting paychecks (however small) and the union’s position will be that much stronger. No one would question the union’s togetherness with such a system in place.

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