National Columnist

Not enough euros in world to make stars go globe-trotting


Hate Mail: Free speech not free of stupidity

NBA players are about to jump overseas, and not just Deron Williams. Lots of them. Maybe all of them. Amar'e Stoudemire is thinking about it. Kobe Bryant won't rule it out. Dwight Howard. Dwyane Wade. More. Lots more.

That's the story, and it reminds me of another story, a story I heard when I myself was a small boy -- a story about another boy. A kid who cried wolf.

Deron Williams might actually mean business with his deal to play in Turkey. (Getty Images)  
Deron Williams might actually mean business with his deal to play in Turkey. (Getty Images)  
A liar.

That's what this story makes me think. It makes me think NBA players are lying, and worse -- they think we're dumb enough to believe them.

Deron Williams? Him, I believe. That cat is just far enough out there -- young, intellectually curious, adventuresome and independent -- to go through with his one-year deal to play in Turkey during the NBA lockout. Plus he signed the actual contract, and while I'm sure his agent inserted multiple ways to get out of that contract regardless of the labor status, Deron Williams deserves to be taken seriously.

Tony Parker? Sure, I can see him playing in France. For one, he's French. For another, he's part-owner of a team in France. I can see Tony Parker playing for himself, just as I can see international NBA players like Serge Ibaka, Jose Juan Barea and Andrei Kirilenko returning to their home countries to play.

What I can't see is Dwight Howard packing up his stuff, saying goodbye to his posse and getting on a plane to play in a country where they don't speak his language, don't offer his food and won't kiss his ass like we'll kiss it here in the States. This is a guy so sensitive -- so needy -- that he actually thinks the fawning Orlando media is trying to push him out of town.

This is a delusional person, is my point. And a liar. Don't tell me you've forgotten that Howard vowed in May to stay in Orlando, and then in June was vowing 180 degrees the other way, to become a free agent after the 2012 season. And now in July, Howard is vowing that he's open to playing overseas. I can't wait for August, when Howard vows to play Daddy Warbucks in Annie.

The idea of Dwight Howard going overseas pushes the limits of credibility, but Kobe Bryant and Amar'e Stoudemire going there? That's just absurd. Both guys are on their last legs, literally. Bryant has just a few years left with the knees he was born with, and if you think he's going to spend any of that precious time in Turkey or China, you're nuts.

Bryant is all about Bryant -- and can you honestly see Vanessa Bryant A) going to China; or B) letting her man go without her? -- and he's currently eighth on the NBA's career scoring list with 27,868 points. His knees won't allow him to make a run at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record (38,387), but he's two years away from passing Michael Jordan for third (32,292).

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Do you really think Kobe Bryant would jeopardize that by dragging his crumbling knees to China or Turkey?

Honestly ...

But I'll say this for Bryant: He's not sending mixed signals -- unlike Howard, who needs to assign someone in his posse the job of keeping his stories straight. And unlike Amar'e Stoudemire, who has been sending out so many mixed signals, he gave me vertigo.

July 8: Stoudemire tweets, "Should I go to Israel and play for Maccabi Tel Aviv during the lockout? Who's with me?"

July 9: Stoudemire tweets, "Europe teams are calling, I think I'm going to stay here in the States. My loyalty is with the State of New York and the Knicks. Who's with me?"

July 12: Stoudemire goes on ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt Show to make a complete and total liar of himself: "It's not a definite thing that I'm not going to sign overseas."

Who's with you, Amar'e? Only the gullible.

Not me. I'll believe it when I see it, but I'm telling you now I'll never see Dwyane Wade leave the United States to play a season in some foreign country. This is a guy who is on record as being noncommittal to the 2012 Olympics, not sure that he can leave his myriad business interests in the States to play for his country. But he told recently that "I'm not ruling it out" when asked about playing the 2011-12 season overseas.

Too busy for the two-week Olympics in London -- but not so busy that he can't spend four months on a pro team in Europe.

Get real, people. Wake up. Playing in Europe is a bargaining chip that NBA stars have pushed onto the table during this lockout, nothing more. These guys don't need the money, not even the worst of the money managers. It's impossible to spend the money they've earned in the NBA -- Kobe Bryant has earned $196 million, Dwyane Wade $70 million and Dwight Howard $65 million -- and anyway, they have a lot more money than that. Guys at that level have shoe deals and other endorsements that are independent of the NBA and its lockout. Plus, the NBA Players Association recently decided to parcel out $160 million in salary rebates. What that means varies from player to player, but Dwyane Wade's take, to name one, is $1.1 million.

Wade doesn't need the money. None of these guys need it, and I'll be honest with you: I'm not sure they love the game enough to play it overseas, where the travel, lodging, food and adulation will be inferior to what they've received in the United States.

I'm not calling these guys liars, but I am saying ... no, wait. I am calling them liars.

Prove me wrong, NBA stars.

You liars.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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