The local tabloids have caught wind that Amar’e Stoudemire would be open to joining Kobe Bryant’s barnstorming tour of China. From the Daily News:
According to a person close to the Knicks’ All-Star power forward, Stoudemire would only play if he can be insured in case of injury. The Knicks signed Stoudemire last summer to five-year, $100-million contract despite being unable to get the contract insured because Stoudemire has a pre-existing knee problem and has had surgery for a detached retina.
Stoudemire couldn’t get insured last summer, and was last seen hobbling around MSG looking like the world’s worst Crip walker. He already turned down the chance to play with the national team last summer; now he’s a year older, has another injury under his belt and wants to play ball in China. What in the blue hell makes him think he’s going to get insurance this time around? Answer: probably nothing. This story feels like it was conjured out of the ether; I can’t see any way Amar’e heads to China with his contract at risk.
The tour itself, though, is something to consider. The games will no doubt sell out – Kobe is a transcendent star in Asia, where championships are valued over all else – plus I like the idea of a bunch of NBA stars touching down in every Podunk town in China, looking like aliens just landed. My thought: if the players are willing to burn the calories to go to China, why not do something similar in the US? It’s a thought a friend of mine had the other night: in a world gone mad, where some fans are actually buying the owners’ claims of destitution – click here for Nate Silver’s comprehensive breakdown of that line of BS, by the way – a barnstorming tour of the US would be a savvy PR move to remind the fans who’s most responsible for the basketball product, while turning a tidy profit along the way. There could be 3-on-3 tournaments, a dunk contest, fan interaction, and anything else you could think of all monetized through sponsorship and a small TV deal. Nothing to make the owners sweat too much, but enough to let the fans know that at least one side wants to play ball. NBA stars regularly play absurdly competitive pickup games throughout the summer – why not make something out of it? I have my reservations about the idea, but hey, if they’re willing to go to China…
Elsewhere in Knicks land, Jared Zwerling threw up a post to ESPN New York yesterday entitled, “Mason: ‘Both Sides Want to Make a Deal.” Of course, by “both sides” I thought he was talking about “Roger Mason” and “the Knicks,” but after I finished wiping the vomit from the corners of my mouth I realized that Mason is a union VP, which I find doubly ridiculous because the end of the lockout would improve Mason’s chances of employment this season by roughly 0.00%.
Anyway, the Mason interview is the same thing you hear from everyone on both sides of these thing – “Both sides want to make a deal,” etc. – but what I found most interesting was Mason’s mentioning his burgeoning music career, which he says is “really taking off,” even though there’s no music on his personal website or YouTube page. What there is, however, is homoerotic tension. Yeah.
Given Mason is an underdog to see another dime in the NBA, he may want to see if he can tag along with Kobe to China. He may not be good enough to play on the actual team, but maybe Stephon Marbury can get him a job interview.