Basketball fans in the Philippines went home disappointed after NBA players refused to play in a scheduled exhibition game against the Philippine national team on Tuesday. Apparently, the organizers of the event failed to get clearance from the NBA itself leading to the cancellation of the event.
According to reports, an NBA official called the players at around 5:00 pm local time and warned them of possible sanctions including fines and suspensions.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports confirmed the memo sent by the NBA Players Association (NBAPA):
“In the memo, the Players Association informed player agents and players that the NBA "has taken the position that any such exhibition or competition is unallowable and is not approved for player participation under the [collective bargaining agreement], regardless of whether it is incorporated into a 'clinic' or other 'benign-sounding activity,'" according to the writer.
On Wednesday, the NBA also released an official statement regarding the cancellation of the exhibition game:
“Under the terms of the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are allowed to participate in offseason basketball games or exhibitions when requirements for those events are met, including ensuring that appropriate safeguards be in place, and the promoter seeks the proper exemptions from the NBA and the player’s team. The promoter of this proposed event, East-West Private LLC, was informed of this process several months ago but did not take the required steps. Filipinos are among the most passionate basketball fans in the world and we are committed to bringing them more access to our game and supporting the ongoing Typhoon Haiyan rehabilitation efforts.”
NBA pros that were supposed to play but backed out in the last minute were Kyle Lowry, DeMar Derozan and Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors); Brandon Jennings (Detroit Pistons); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Clippers); Ed Davis (Los Angeles Lakers); Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs); Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks) and Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers).
Former NBA coach John Lucas was supposed to run five-on-five plays but settled for calling scrimmages and drills in what turned out to be a glorified practice session.
The most expensive tickets for the cancelled exhibition game were pegged at around $430. Some of the fans came from far-flung places from around the country.
The event’s organizer, PLDT, a telephone company in the Philippines, was forced to refund the tickets for the fans who went to the (non) event. It was supposed to be a two-night affair and Wednesday activities were cancelled as well.
None of the NBA players released any statement although one-- Lillard of the Trail Blazers-- took to Twitter to show regret with the unexpected turn of events:
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 22, 2014