Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shanghai Surprise

When the NBA lockout was in full effect it seemed like there was no end in sight. Several players contemplated playing overseas and a few players even signed contracts with foreign teams. Kenyon Martin, JR Smith, and Wilson Chandler all decided that some money was better than no money and what better way to stay in basketball shape than playing basketball. The Chinese league embraced them with open arms and forged a mutually beneficial relationship. Then the lockout ended.

In somewhat predictable fashion Martin, Smith, and Chandler wanted to return to the NBA irregardless of their contractual obligations. In somewhat predictable fashion Martin left the Xinjiang Tigers in December forcing them to abide by his wishes. He now gets to play for the newly improved Los Angeles Clippers providing veteran leadership (did I just say that about Kenyon Martin?) and depth along the front court. Unfortunately the new CBA rules forbid Chandler and Smith from joining a team until the Chinese league finishes their season in a few weeks.

The question remains whether these 3 players made the right decision about their future by playing overseas. In hindsight it looks like a mistake, but given the circumstances surrounding the NBA a few months ago you can understand why they took the calculated risk. At the very least they got to experience another part of the world and will probably appreciate the United States a lot more upon their return.

I'm sure basketball in China has benefited from the experience as well. NBA players are the best players in the world making the experience both educational and entertaining. JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Wilson Chandler will leave behind moves and strategies that will help bring Chinese basketball to a higher level.

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