July 24, 2008

How about that American dollar?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball, Ice Hockey

What does the recession in the U.S. do to sports? More than you’d think. If you haven’t noticed, more and more professional athletes — mainly hockey and basketball players — are heading overseas to ply their trade. And why wouldn’t they? It may not be the big name guys leaving their North American squads — except for Jaromir Jagr so far — but there are still very key guys leaving the NBA and NHL for a better opportunity to shine. Look at Josh Childress for instance. He’s a solid player and could be a mid-rotation guy on many NBA teams, but with Olympiakos, he’ll most likely be their star. It doesn’t hurt that the American Dollar is sliding in comparison to the Euro, which Childress will be paid in. He’ll be paid the equivalent of $20 million over three years to be exact and even has the chance to opt out after every season should he feel like it. Sounds like a good deal to me.

So far, five players have left the NBA for Europe this offseason while some – mainly European – hockey players have gone overseas. Even Ray Emery, who may have worn out his welcome in Ottawa but could no doubt have gotten a job elsewhere, went to the Russian Continental League for not even more that much more money that an NHL club would have offered. Seriously, I have no idea how that happened.

But the real point here is that while the NHL and NBA are looking to expand their brands and bring in some overseas revenue, their players already have a jump on them. How often does that happen?

Smooth move by the Warriors addressing their biggest need and grabbing Marcus Williams from Jersey to be their backup point guard. This will also allow them to use Ellis of the point at times with Williams on the court as well. He didn’t even cost Golden State too much; a conditional pick should be worth the gamble.

About U.S.A. hoop or “The Redeem Team”: I know Kobe is a great defender but using him primarily as a stopper instead of a scorer is a little dumb. I know this team is stacked but the Mamba is not Bruce Bowen. This will be a great test of how much (points) Kobe is willing to give up to be a good teammate and potentially win it all. But the greatest question of all about the US team is who takes that last, clutch shot? Kobe, LeBron or Carmelo Anthony? Coach K better hope that no games come down to making that call.

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