This year, we may not get to see Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers play. The people of Italy probably will. While the National Basketball Association lockout continues, Bryant is considering a deal worth $5 million for one year from the Virtus Bologna. He's not the only NBA player who might appear overseas. Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets signed a contract with the Turkish team Besiktas, worth $200,000 per month. Many more top players are jumping overseas during the work stoppage.
By contrast, Bryant signed a contract on April 2, 2010, with the Lakers for $87 million, which means he's playing for about one-sixth what he would be if the NBA lockout ended. Williams has a player option for $17.7 million next year, so he's playing for about one-seventh his normal pay.
So why are these players not on the court in the United States?
Thanks to the NBA Players' Union. That's also the reason you pay such high prices at the ticket office and can only afford seats in the third tier. It's why a beer costs $7 at these games. And it's why so many of the players are spoiled brats.
The current NBA lockout pits the owners, the folks who risk their capital, against the players, who risk no capital, who have guaranteed contracts and who hardly lack for pay. (The average NBA yearly salary is $3.4 million.) This isn't Norma Rae. It's a monopolistic shakedown.
So what are the issues that prompted the lockout? The current collective bargaining agreement expires in this year. Supposedly, the players want more intra-team revenue sharing, which makes sense from their perspective -- if small market teams have more cash, they can jack up the bidding on players. But revenue sharing should be a question between the owners. The players should have no part of that negotiation, since it is the owners' cash.
The players also want to prevent a luxury tax imposed by the owners on themselves to prevent certain teams (read: the Lakers) from doing a New York Yankees and stockpiling talent and creating competitive imbalances. Again, this is not the players' business. If owners want to impose a tax on themselves, that is their business, since it is the owners' money.