We all knew it already, but he erased any lingering doubt last night: Deron Williams has signed a deal with Istanbul-based club Beşiktaş, and barring an early end to the lockout will play basketball overseas in Turkey.
Deron made it official the way everybody makes things official these days, by tweeting Chris Broussard about it:
To reiterate, I’m not mad that Deron is going overseas. It makes sense. If my employer locked me out of my job, I’m damn sure going to look elsewhere. Don’t want me to play? Forget you, I’m taking my ball and going… well, anywhere but home. Istanbul is a nice city, right? He made the right decision for himself, and I respect that. But I am annoyed. It’s not how Deron intended it, and it’s unfair to put that pressure on him, but this is also a statement by the NBPA. Even Billy Hunter took Deron’s move as a sign of strength. Owners, we will not back down. We won’t just roll over and give you everything you want. We will make this difficult for you.
And that just means that the pissing contest known as “the NBA Lockout” will almost assuredly last through the season.
I’ve stayed out of lockout discussions for a variety of reasons. I’m not smart enough to comment on the economics the way Tim Donahue and Tom Liston have. I’m not savvy nor confident enough to believe I have the right answers for “saving the league” like Bill Simmons. I’m not a superandroid hell-bent on taking over the world one CBA-related question at a time like Larry Coon. I don’t pretend I have an effective method of splitting up billions between millionaires, billionaires, and soft drink vendors. I didn’t start writing about basketball so I’d know what to do when there wasn’t any around. I just love the sport.
This is the first lockout since the boom of online sports media, but it’s also my first real lockout experience as a fan/serious viewer/analyst/blogger. Yes, I was alive during the 1999 lockout, but I was also ten. My knowledge of the sport spread barely beyond documentaries I didn’t understand and basketball cards I over-appreciated. (Also, Space Jam.) I only knew that the league was going through some post-Jordan depression, and that I couldn’t watch my favorite sport until the grown-ups stopped arguing.
(I do distinctly remember the day the lockout ended: I screamed jubilantly like Pink Shirt Guy through a careening, off-balance victory lap around my elementary school gym that ended with me slipping on the floor and smashing the back of my head against the hardwood. My gym teacher used it as a learning experience for other kids. I was okay with that.)
I also know that the sheer amount of basketball coverage in this era compared to 1999 is unthinkable. I do count myself lucky that I’ll be able to watch Deron (and Bojan, and kind-of Sasha) play in Turkey until one of the eight-figure bank accounts blinks. It’s something, and I’ll enjoy it, but it’s not the same. It won’t replace the NBA. And while Deron Williams can take action by going overseas, there’s really nothing we can do but wait.