The list of NBA players looking to jump to European leagues is long and getting longer with each passing day of the labor feud with team owners.
Several Indiana Pacers are among those reportedly exploring their options overseas.
I’m not sure if there is an overabundance of optimism about opportunities for professional basketball players in Europe or an under-abundance of information.
Here’s a reality check. The economy in Europe is at least as depressed as it is here in the U.S. A realistic salary for an NBA Player not named Kobe Bryant or Deron Williams is $90,000 annually.
Salaries in Europe are often paid by sponsors and are rarely guaranteed. Players in Europe routinely get about half of what they’re promised as teams hit financial hardships.
Players whose sponsors do come through with all of their salaries often get less because the teams take some of that money and spread it around to other players whose sponsors don’t come up with as much as they promised.
Players who fight sharing their pay with teammates are frowned upon. They also are known never to get a pass from a teammate again.
The number of teams in the Spanish and Italian professional leagues that have declared bankruptcy in the last year is in double digits. Remember, those are two of the biggest European professional leagues, and the Spanish league is the second-biggest in the world next to the NBA.
For NBA players who don’t like practice, forget about Europe. Practices for European teams are known to be full-contact. Most players are on one-year contracts, and most European players love nothing more than to show up an NBA player, in practice or in games. It’s a good way to secure a job.
In Europe, players stay in hotels more akin to a YMCA than The Conrad. There are no all-you-can-eat surf-and-turf buffets, and no roomy, comfy locker rooms, and workout facilities aren’t always state-of-the-art. Players are more likely to take a long bus ride to games than to fly first class.
And there aren’t a plethora of billionaire owners in Europe willing to pay huge salaries and operate at eight- and nine-digit annual losses.
As for European owners, most will want a guarantee that NBA players won’t jump ship mid-season should the NBA lockout end. That will be a difficult pill to swallow for many NBA players.
The list of players saying they’re jumping to Europe in the case of a long NBA lockout may be long. But the fact is, the demand for their services overseas isn’t all that great.