Deron Williams approach to the NBA’s labor issues is awesome and unprecedented. The lockout is a real thing, not just a buzzword, and no one gets paid while it’s happening. Seeing various NFL players have to go back to school or get jobs as stock traders or as substitute teachers is the reality of a lockout. Cash is king and the reason these guys play in the NBA is the same reason the owners own teams; to make money.
With that in mind, why is he taking so much heat for his decision to leave the NBA and play in Turkey rather than wait for a season that will probably never happen, while waiting for money that will probably never come? Sure he was “scheduled” to make roughly $14 million this season, but $5 million that is guaranteed is the “smart money”.
Just think if something like this was available to NFL players. As it stands there is no other football league in the world that can pay the type of money or offer the kind of competition that is available to the NBA’s counterparts overseas, so NFL players are stuck with no options. The UFL pays its players roughly $60,000 a year, to stay on par with what the NFL pays its practice squad players. The average CFL salary is $100,000 a year, well below the NFL average of roughly $800,000. Professional basketball overseas salaries vary by country and league but it is obviously much higher, especially when considering it’s attracting a big stud from the biggest league in the world.
So what does this have to do with Curt Flood? For those unaware of him, he was a major league baseball player in the 1960’s who challenged the then status quo of baseball players being “indentured servants” to Major League Baseball and the team they played for. In his era, a player played for one team for his entire career, unless he was traded. His argument was (among other things) the players who had no say in the team they played for and ultimately the direction of their lives which was un-American and unconstitutional. Curt Flood was also one of the best players of his era winning two World Series, seven Gold Gloves and was a three time All-Star. His court case led to free agency in MLB which ultimately spilled over to every other major league sport in this country.
Which is why he is similar to Deron Williams. Williams is not only one of the best, maybe the best point guard in the game, and he is opening the “Flood-gates” to something the NBA isn’t ready for that could ultimately cripple and destroy the league. It’s an x-factor the arrogance of the owners never allowed them to see.
This isn’t Josh Childress leaving the NBA, or any other mid-range talent. Or an old, jump shooting Dominique Wilkins. This is an upper echelon player doing something that is going to attract other big name players who aren’t getting paid to do the same thing.
Rather than being held captive by a lockout that he had nothing to do with creating, and the greed that the owners displayed over the past decade and a half that created the situation we’re in, he takes his services as an employee to another company (or country) and continues to provide for his family.
If anything, Deron Williams shouldn’t be derided for the choice he’s made, he should be commended and other star NBA players should follow his example; imagine if Kobe, or LeBron goes overseas- you don’t think that would speed up lockout negotiations? It absolutely would.
Ironically, in his move overseas, he’s doing the most American thing he could do; exercising his freedom.