After enduring some scheduling changes, logistical challenges and a few last-minute withdrawals from big-name superstars, the proposed six-game, four-continent, NBA all-star barnstorming tour will finally get underway on Sunday in Puerto Rico. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire are among 14 players who have committed to participate in the exhibition event that has been billed the “World All-Star Classic.”
The event took a hit this week, as five players -- including the past two league’s most valuable players in LeBron James and Derrick Rose -- chose to back out, citing prior commitments. There was speculation that Durant was on the fence, but a person close to the all-star forward confirmed earlier in the day that he would follow through on his commitment.
ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony withdrew from the two-week tour that will also make stops London, Macau and Melbourne, Australia. Reigning league most valuable player Rose and point guard Russell Westbrook passed on the event the day before. With three all-star point guards no longer involved, organizers would likely need to find replacements. Wizards point guard John Wall was not extended an invitation and a person close to him said Wall would “probably not” look into participating.
“Doubt if he has any real interest,” the source said.
In an official announcement released late Wednesday night, organizers stated that they have contracted agreements with Durant, Bryant, Howard, Wade, Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Carlos Boozer, Tyson Chandler and Chris Kaman.
Team captains will pick the teams and rosters will be announced before the first game at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Jose Miguel Argelot Coliseum in San Juan. Tickets will go on sale on Thursday.
The tour was organized by Atlanta businessman Calvin Darden Sr. and players will reportedly receive payments ranging from six figures to $1 million for playing in the games. A portion of the proceeds will also be donated various charities on behalf of the players and the event.
James, Anthony and Paul reportedly intend to spend time with family until the league lifts the lockout, which is in its 118th day. The NBA and the players’ union are meeting on Wednesday in hopes of resolving the labor dispute and finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement. The ESPN report stated that the “trio is somewhat hopeful that an NBA season can begin shortly.”