But the all-star loaded tour will be without three of the game’s biggest names. ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul have all withdrawn from the tour, one day after reigning MVP Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook declined to join the group.
• Wizards Insider: Bryant, Durant headline NBA all-star barnstorming tour
The tour — which has scheduled stops in London, Macau and Melbourne, Australia — still features 14 big-name players who will be sure to draw plenty of fans. Late Wednesday night, the announced roster included Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Carlos Boozer, Tyson Chandler and Chris Kaman.
Sunday’s tour opener tips off at Jose Miguel Argelot Coliseum in San Juan at 7 p.m. and will pit two teams selected by captains from among the players on tour.
But with NBA labor talks picking up steam, later stops are beginning to worry that the tour may be cut short. A press release issued Thursday by event organizers did not confirm previously scheduled games outside of Puerto Rico.
While the tour appears like a shrewd marketing move to increase NBA interest around the world, some see it as a divisive measure that damages the players’ position (real of feigned) of unity against the owner’s demands in the debate over a new collective bargaining agreement.
More NBA lockout news from The Washington Post:
Wizards Insider: Two sides make progress, say an 82-game season still possible
Tracee Hamilton: Owners, players can’t solve issues fans wish they had
Wizards Insider: NBA labor negotiations hit another snag