So much for that “see how much money we can make without the NBA” tour.
After seemingly half the stars in the World All-Star Classic constellation pulled out in the past week, the first game — scheduled for Sunday in Puerto Rico — and the entire series now has been sucked into a black hole. Sadly just hours after the NBA labor talks blew up — apparently the basketball gods don’t want us to watch games.
Ric Bucher at ESPN has the report:
The six-game, four-continent World All-Star Classic exhibition tour featuring two squads of All-Star NBA players is on hold, with Sunday’s scheduled game in San Juan, Puerto Rico, postponed indefinitely, sources said.
The other five games on the tour, scheduled for London, Macau and Australia, already had been pushed back until late November, sources said. There was hope the game in San Juan could be salvaged and serve as proof to the other venues and investors that Atlanta businessman Cal Darden and his son, Cal, Jr., were capable of pulling off the event.
First it was Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook who pulled out before even the official announcement went out. That was followed by LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony backing out, then just in the last 24 hours it was Dwight Howard’s turn to get out. Kevin Durant was rumored to be on the fence — and he’s played anywhere and everywhere this summer. With the players being promised six figures and up to $1 million to do the tour (and giving them a platform to promote their brand internationally), for them to bail means something smelled fishy to them and their agents.
Some big names were still attached — Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Garnett — but that was not going to be enough.
Part of the players backing out seemed to be tied to optimism around the finalizing of an NBA labor deal. Now that has blown up again, at least for a little while, and it remains to be seen if that can breathe a little more life into it.
Probably not. It was a grandiose plan, but it has fallen like a Jenga tower. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men….