Locked-out NBA stars plan to take on the world

NEW YORK: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant (pic) and Dwyane Wade are among the locked-out NBA stars who could be making a world tour during what would have been the first two weeks of the season, ESPN reported on Wednesday.

Citing unnamed sources, the US-based sports network’s website said plans were in the works for groups of NBA superstars to play between Oct 30 and Nov 9 in London, Macau, Australia and Puerto Rico.

Two games would be played in Australia and London and all games would be played in venues of at least 15,000 seats.

NBA club owners locked out players on July 1 in a dispute over how to divide US$4.3bil in annual revenues. Talks are ongoing to solve the shutdown, now in its 111th day, and a new deal would scuttle the global barnstorming tour.

But the NBA has already wiped out the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 season, 100 games between Nov 1-14, opening the door for the tour by players left with nothing to do.

Many NBA players have signed deals with European or Asian clubs to ensure they would not lose a season of their careers in case the NBA lockout wipes out the entire North American pro season.

Superstars such as James and Bryant have not flocked overseas, setting the stage for what could be a jaw-dropping world showcase involving the NBA’s elite stars, many who helped the US team reclaim Olympic gold in 2008 at Beijing.

Among the others who reportedly could be involved are Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Carlos Boozer, Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook with Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett among those considering the tour. — AFP

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