The NFL lockout appears to be on the verge of ending after four miserable months. Meanwhile, the NBA is just entering labor hell. But while both professional football players and professional basketball players are locked out, the intricate details of the separate CBA battles are very different.
Here’s a big way in which NBA players have a major advantage over their pigskin-tossing peers: the internationalization of their game gives them a significant amount of leverage.
See, while NFL players do have other options if they choose to keep playing football, none are overly lucrative. UFL? CFL? The arena league? You’d be better off applying for coaching positions at local high schools.
NBA players have the ability to make millions of dollars overseas, and a long enough work stoppage might force large quantities of them to move to Europe and Asia.
An NBA all-star is already leading that charge. Deron Williams, who is smack dab in the middle of his prime after averaging 20.1 points per game with Utah and New Jersey last season, has reportedly signed a million-dollar deal to play for Turkish team Besiktas.
Williams could reportedly earn up to $3.5 million in one season overseas, despite the fact Besiktas isn’t in the Euroleague.
Now, experts say this is an anomaly. Generally, Euroleague teams won’t want to risk disrupting rosters by gambling on American basketball stars who would bail as soon as the NBA resumes operations. But it’s clear that there are squads based in Europe (or elsewhere) willing to pay for the publicity garnered by adding guys like this to their rosters.
And what’s stopping NBA players from travelling the globe like rockstars? Kobe, Lebron and anyone who wants to tag along could bring in some serious cash simply by playing exhibition games in cities across Europe, Asia and wherever else they’re in demand. That’s the thing: the Harlem Globetrotters are financially successful because high-caliber basketball is fun to watch regardless of the stakes.
Football can’t relate. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would/could never suit up and play a contact sport with nothing on the line. And unfortunately, the sport isn’t popular enough internationally for football players to make big bucks elsewhere.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell knows that his players will eventually become hungry for paychecks that they simply can’t collect somewhere else. If what Deron Williams is doing is the omen that it appears to be, NBA commissioner David Stern can’t be so sure that his players will come crawling back.
That doubt gives NBA players leverage that NFL players simply can’t access.