LeBron James will be in China for this week. The star of Miami goes on a promotional journey. Nothing more, for now at least: “This is an opportunity for me to continue following the development of basketball in this vast country. With each trip, I’m a little overwhelmed, especially by the number of sites in the open, where boys and girls play all day. It reminds me of my childhood.”
For the sake of tourism? Not so sure. China is a huge market for the partners of the major teams in the NBA. For it is the Middle Kingdom that could bring the salvation for American stars, now forced into layoffs by the lock-out which has just begun the second month, “I’ll play basketball this season. I do not know where, but I’ll play.” While LeBron James arrived in China, Dwyane Wade, his teammate at Miami Heat, left the country, surrounded by the sounds of the wildest, who reported a particular wage offer Monthly $ 2 million by a club in Beijing. Wade has immediately given the lie to a potential contact, recalling what he told the start of the strike: “I will consider all offers I receive. And I was very impressed with the reception of Chinese fans. “Like what, there is definitely no smoke without fire. So China will remedy the current difficulties in the NBA? The scenario is tortuous, but not impossible.
Why the crisis
The 2011-2012 season of the NBA is challenged by the outbreak of the lockout. The owners of the teams and the players association have not found any financial agreement.
At the time of negotiating the agreements that bind the owners of teams in the NBA and the players, via their representatives, both sides found themselves facing a wall, for now impassable. The NBA believes all of its losses for the 2010-2011 season, about $ 300 million. Corollary to rectify the situation, the owners want to set a ceiling on the total wages of each team to 62 million. “We have no choice,” said David Stern, head of the NBA. The players, themselves, asking instead that their average salary is increased (5 to 7 million per year). The incompatibility is complete.
What are the real numbers?
As there is always the case in such conflicts, the reading of numbers is different, whether you are in one camp or the other. One thing is true: basketball has become the poor relation of the four major North American professional sports. In twenty years, the financial performance of the NBA has increased from 21.3% to 4.8% (figures valid for the 2009-2010 season, the following are not yet available). Less than 5% yield is close to the same period of the NHL (ice hockey, 5.5%), away from the MLB (baseball, 8.1%) and far from the NFL ( football, 13.7%). The stumbling block is also present at the level of articulated figures, to take the example of the 2009-2010 season, the business magazine Forbes spoke to a profit of 183 million for the NBA, while the broadcast data by the league showed a loss of 340 million.
The threat of China?
We see the gap between the two sides is deep. And, while some already waving the threat of a Championship side – “That would make the owners nervous,” laughs a fellow North American – transfers mass stars in the NBA to China in the coming days? Hard to imagine. Moreover, the FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, has noted that “any transfer of an NBA player will only be valid until the end of the lockout.” The question, which no one can answer for now is to know until the end of standoff.