Timing sure can be a thing of beauty. Earlier this week the news come out that the NBA and the Players Union would resume negotiation talks for the first time in a month. Within a day or so of that being reported, some other very interesting news came out that may have an influence on the lockout, one way or another. This news didn't come from either side of the fence though.
FIBA, the governing body of basketball, said on Friday that if NBA players wish to take their talents to another country, its alright with them. However, the player can sign a deal only if there is an opt-out clause so that they can return to the states if/when the lockout comes to an end. Also, if this route is taken, the player will be participating at their own risk of injury.
Here is the statement released by FIBA:
As the world governing body for basketball, we strongly hope that the labor dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, and that the NBA season is able to begin as scheduled.
In view of our role to promote basketball worldwide, we support any player wishing to play the game, wherever and whenever. We do so while obviously taking the interests, rights and obligations of all parties into account.
We have heard a lot about NBA players interested in playing overseas should the lockout stretch into the regular season. For a list of all the guys who have expressed some kind of interest, or who has already signed some kind of deal with a foreign club, click here. You'll be very surprised with how long this list is, and it keeps growing. You'll notice one thing about the list...the lack of Miami Heat players.
Here is some reaction to the FIBA decision. First, NBA Union Chief Billy Hunter:
"Our players are gratified by today's announcement by FIBA, although it comes as no surprise. We have consistently advised our members that in the event of a lockout they would have the right to be compensated for playing basketball irrespective of whether they were under contract to an NBA team or not. We have encouraged all of our players to pursue such opportunities and will continue to do so."
Finally, here is what the president of the players association Derek Fisher had to say:
"We don't view it as really weakening the union. We view it as a gentleman is being told that he can't come to work at a particular place and he's temporarily unemployed and he's seeking employment elsewhere. That's kind of the way we view it. Our elected members -- myself, the executive committee, Billy Hunter, our staff, our legal counsel -- that's what we get elected to do is kind of carry that brunt and attend the meetings and be physically present.
We fully expect and anticipate that our guys are going to want to find opportunities to do what they love to do, and that's play the game. We definitely don't view it as weakening our stance or our position, we just view it as guys going out and doing what they want to do."
Can't say that I don't agree with that. Sure, these guys are rich, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to work. If it also happens to be that ‘work' to them is doing something they love and are very passionate about then so be it. The only thing that I really hope is that should players take the opportunity and play overseas, nobody gets hurt.
If someone suffers a season-ending injury while playing in another country and then the lockout ends, the mess that would cause is something I really hope we don't have to go through. For now, it's still the middle of the summer so let's hope that we see some progress made in ending the lockout so all this talk becomes moot.