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FIBA to clear NBA players under contract to play overseas

July 29, 2011 |  1:23 pm

Kobe Bryant

Even before Kobe Bryant meets Saturday with the Turkish basketball club Besiktas, an important ruling has come down that will make it easier for NBA players to play overseas during a possibly prolonged  lockout.

FIBA announced Friday that it will clear NBA players under contract to play in overseas leagues so long as they return to the NBA once the lockout ends

"In view of our role to promote basketball worldwide, we support any player wishing to play the game, wherever and whenever," FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said in a statement. "We do so while obviously taking the interests, rights and obligations of all parties into account.”

FIBA's decision paves the way for NBA players to earn a paycheck overseas, something New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams has decided to do in joining Besiktas. But this decision won't necessarily lead NBA stars, such as Bryant, to suddenly jump into oversea ventures. Players are free to sign anywhere, but they won't have insurance to back them up in case they get injured.  

In Bryant's case, injuries are an important issue -- including his surgically repaired right knee, sprained left ankle and arthritic index finger. Because of Bryant's competitive drive, he maintained in his exit interview that he still plans to have an active summer. But that wouldn't mean he'd be willing to risk further injury with an overseas club. 

"The NBAPA and our players are gratified by today's announcement by FIBA, although it comes as no surprise, players union executive director Billy Hunter said in a statement. We have consistently advised our members that in the event of a lockout, they would have the right to be compensated for playing basketball irrespective of whether they were under contract to an NBA team or not. We encouraged all of our players to pursue such opportunities and will continue to do so. In the face of the economic pressure that the NBA has attempted to exert by imposing a lockout, our players are unified and eager to demonstrate that the NBA's tactics will be unsuccessful."


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Kobe Bryant to meet with Turkish club Besiktas

-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant and Clippers' guard Eric Gordon battle for a loose ball in October 2009. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times