Now those players have the blessing of basketball’s international governing body.
On Friday FIBA announced it will clear NBA players under contract to play in overseas leagues during the lockout provided they return to the NBA when the lockout ends.
Really, this is a no-brainer for FIBA. If your aim is to expand the global market for basketball consumption, why would not want the sport’s biggest stars traveling around the globe to drum up interest?
In a statement FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann said as much:
“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.”
It’s a win for FIBA and it’s a win for NBA players looking to pocket some money and keep their legs fresh during what is expected to be a lengthy lockout. And above all, it may be a win for Besiktas — the soon-to-be New York Yankees of international hoops.
Williams already has a deal in place with the Turkish club worth a reported $500,000 per month and Besiktas is actively courting Bryant as well. The two sides are expected to meet Saturday, which will kick off a weekend for Kobe who be in attendance for the World Football Challenge featuring F.C. Barcelona vs. Manchester United at FedEx Field. Bryant will also be on hand for Mia Hamm’s charity soccer game Sunday in D.C.