Oct 19, 2011, 4:24 PM EST
We’ve been hearing rumblings and kind of waiting to see when a huge, star player barnstorming tour would gain some traction. One that features Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and many others.
It has — and the fact it gets leaked on a key day of NBA labor negotiations is no coincidence either. This is a tour where players will make big bucks (at least six figures each, some up to $1 million), giving the players the “see, we can make money other ways” card to play.
Chris Broussard of ESPN broke the story of a two-week tour (while labor negotiations were still going on Wednesday).
In a trip that could resemble Team USA’s takeover of the world stage at the 2008 Beijing Games, Kobe, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Carlos Boozer, Paul Pierce and Kevin Love are among the players expected to participate. Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett, among a few others, are also contemplating joining the tour….
Atlanta business mogul Calvin Darden has been putting the tour together with the players’ agents for nearly three months. He has already obtained signed contracts from Bryant, Wade, Bosh, Griffin, Rondo and Pierce. Sources say he’s hoping to complete the rest of the agreements, along with insurance requirements, over the next few days.
The tour, scheduled to begin Oct. 30 and end Nov. 9, will make stops in Puerto Rico, London, Macau, and Australia. Each game will be staged in an arena that holds at least 15,000 fans. Two games each will be played at sites in London and Australia.
The tour would be a big hit with fans and well covered by media, but don’t or a second think it will impact the lockout negotiations.
These are 16 of the NBA’s elite players, and even if a few more jump in we are talking about the best compensated guys in the NBA, guys with shoe contracts and endorsements. These are the guys not feeling any pinch from the lockout.
The other 430 guys may feel differently. Role players who have a limited number of years to make as much money as they can are the ones who can’t miss a season on principle. And they are not the guys getting money to promote their brand around the globe. They do now or will soon start to feel differently about the lockout than the top guys.
But for now, with talks stalled, this exhibition tour will be huge.
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