In a mocking response to the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s record $1.1 billion offer to PSG and Kylian Mbappe for the French icon to play a season in Saudi Arabia, two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has offered his services to the Al Hilal club.
It would be just as tempting to exchange ideas about how Giannis Antetokounmpo And Mbappe could implicate parent Al Hilal, raising fears the flood of Saudi money into the sports economy could disrupt the NBA model. Hours later, LeBron James joked taking your talent to saudi arabia,
It’s all fun and games until a valuable domestic league catches their eye. After seeing those dollar signs, a growing number of football talismans have stepped into Saudi Arabia’s sportswashing operation.
Now, it is becoming very common to track Saudi participation in American sports. The NBA hasn’t had to deal with competition or a checkbook This could equalize them since the merger of the old ABA with the NBA. The NBA’s monopoly has allowed them to artificially reduce the earning potential of their biggest revenue generator. The amount of money modern stars make is theoretically the same underpaid.
Thankfully, the thirst for hoops is not as intense in Saudi cities as it is for European football. The Saudi Basketball League has been in existence for 40 years and has existed anonymously. They have neither infrastructure nor relevance. It’s not quite clear whether the Saudi family is even aware it exists, but let’s say they have chosen to put billions of resources into hoops. After all money talks.
I personally am not as concerned about his interest in interfering with pro basketball as many hyperventilating NBA squawk boxes are in this regard. Rampant poaching of the league’s top talent, but what if he tried? In that reality, I can imagine a future where an occasional NBA star rakes in some trillion-dollars a season. Saudi Rec League. this will be the last payday Destination for superstars like Messi in MLS.
Instead of warming a few benches and earning the minimum or mid-level exceptions experienced on the NBA bench, their key stars will have a more lucrative market for their talent than the top leagues in Europe or China. However, there are some reasons why they will not go to their peak. For one, these guys are competitors first and foremost. If the Saudi Public Investment Fund wanted to invest $100 million in Bol Bol, it would be insane to turn it down. However, this is not a good strategy for increasing the global footprint of your league. Attracting top-20 superstars is the only way one can get that kind of momentum. I didn’t even know there was even a Saudi domestic football league until Ronaldo signed a deal with Al Nassr for the equivalent of $220 million.
But a one-year rental has to make the player’s time worthwhile. When jaylen brown receiving $304 million in five yearswhy would there be a max player like him, or Will he be at risk of injury for a year if he doesn’t get the upgrade? What makes it even more complicated is that players have to find these deals in free agency.
It’s hard enough for Native American players to live in Toronto. Good luck convincing extremely wealthy black men in their mid-20s to stay in Riyadh for the long haul. European stars like Luka Doncic or Antetokounmpo may be their most logical targets. The impact of even one star leaving will draw attention to the NBA’s salary cap. The player’s union can use this as a bargaining tool to get around the underlying salary cap.
However, there is a group of athletes who would be open to this purpose. NBA prospects also have a unique value. Most of them have acquired followers since their teens. LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Victor Wambanyama, Luka Doncic all played overseas before returning to the US after becoming draft eligible. Next Zion Williamson or Vembanayama could face lucrative offer from Saudis Instead of zero cash and the prying eyes of the NCAA.
You would hope that NBA veterans wouldn’t need a headache, as we are a few years away from many active players earning billions in careers alone, but after looking at the unlikely PGA, and the LIV alliance and Qatar’s interest Buying a Piece of the Washington WizardsAnything is possible.
Follow DJ Danson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex