With a slow flood of NBA players voicing their willingness to play overseas should the lockout extend through the 2011-2012 season, executive director of the Players Association Billy Hunter sent a letter out this week to 450 union members indicating that the NBPA fully supported the movement. He emphasized that playing abroad would put pressure on owners fearing a risk on their investment.
"This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement," Hunter said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. "It is important for owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances."
The letter arrived to players five days after New Jersey Nets superstar Deron Williams became the first high-profile union member to agree to preliminary terms with a foreign team. In the immediate aftermath, several players have already referred to the stunning decision as extremely brave, with Thunder star Kevin Durant proclaiming, "I am sure you are going to see a lot of guys kind of follow his footsteps."
Hunter fully backed that claim, confidently stating, "If the owners will not give our players a forum in which to play basketball here in the United States, they risk losing the greatest players in the world to the international basketball federations that are more than willing to employ them."
NBA commissioner David Stern has communicated that the league has no power to stop any players that wish to take their talents overseas. Still, the issue will remain up in the air until FIBA -- the sport's international federation -- reaches a decision whether to allow the impending migration.