How much would I get paid playing overseas?
What’s the average overseas salary?
How much did YOU get paid playing overseas?
Do I need an agent?
A lot of people — players and otherwise — seem to want to know the answer to these one. I will do my best to clear things up.
- The differences between playing overseas and the NBA — where pay is concerned — are 1) NBA salaries are public record, overseas salaries are not, and 2) The NBA has a salary scale. With international teams, some clubs will publish their total roster budget, but not a list of what each player is receiving (which could lead to obvious problems).
- That said, there is no minimum or maximum you can make playing basketball overseas. You get what you negotiate (or, what you accept). That places your possible pay range anywhere from playing for free, to millions of dollars.
- Agents are good for knowing what a team can afford to pay a player and possibly getting you more than you can get on your own. Overseas teams, when signing a player through and agent, pay the agent a fee themselves. You do not pay your agent anything when you sign a deal internationally. If an agent tells you to pay him, or that you pay him later from your overseas contract, that agent is scamming you. Run. [NOTE: In the USA, teams do not pay agents. In this case you would pay your agent; the normal rate is 2-4%. Yes, two to four percent, by law, and no more. Endorsement deals are open season and lead to a larger agent percentage, somewhere in the 10-20% range.]
Scam Alert: I know at least three people who have been scammed out of $250 by a man named John Jordan (here’s his Twitter profile and his website). I know around 10 players that were intrigued by John’s pitch but kept their money. Here’s how John Jordan works: He contacts you about your interest in playing overseas (almost always, a player that has yet to begin their career). He tells you about his connections and experience placing players with jobs and name-drops multiple teams/countries (tugging at the emotional strings of a recent college grad who has yet to receive a passport stamp — smart sales strategy). He then tells you he charges a $250 (or something close) fee for his services, which you must pay before he goes to work for you. The money must be sent by Western Union or some other wire-transfer service. You pay, he emails with you for a short period after (with more name and place-dropping), then disappears, with your $250, while you are still without a contract.
John contacted me in 2004 before I had began my career. We exchanged emails for several days. After continuos questioning of his technique (“Why do you insist I pay you before you do the work?”), John grew annoyed with me and cut off communication. In 2005, a player I’d faced in college got scammed by John Jordan. In 2006 when I was playing for the Harlem Ambassadors, a teammate admitted to falling for the scam. And from what I hear, John is still at it. John Jordan is his real name, he is a coach who runs some basketball school in North Carolina (peep the $500 application fee to his academy). Beware.
- Get copies of all your contracts in the native language and in English. Teams place dubious clauses in contracts that allows the club to do shady shit. Not to say you will be able to have such clauses removed (you or your agent may), but at least you’ll know you’re being robbed when it happens.
I negotiated my release from one club I was on and, when it was time for my last payment, $300 was missing. We — me, the head coach, the general manager, team treasurer, and a teammate that acted as translator between myself and the coach, general manager, and treasurer — were sitting in the main office of team headquarters. The coach explained that there was a clause in my contract that stipulated that he could fine the team for a bad game performance (our most recent game, which we had lost), and that’s where my $300 went. I demanded that they produce a copy of my signed contract and show me that specific clause, which I would have my translating teammate read to me. They, somehow, didn’t have a copy in their main office. The last thing I said was, “We will sit here all day until I get my money.” They sent the treasurer to the ATM.
- How much money any person makes in any line of work is their business; if they choose to discuss their business that is their decision. I choose not to.
- Euros are worth more than dollars. If you head to Europe, get paid by the Euro and not the dollar. Clubs will try to pay you in dollars to save money, especially if you broker a deal on your own without an agent (Check the exchange rate).
Basketball is business. When you sign overseas, you will be more on your own than you imagined. No one to call for help, and maybe not many people to even have a conversation with. You are responsible for being informed as to what’s happening. There are honest people out there working in the basketball business, and there are also people who will bleed you for all they can if they sense you aren’t on top of your business. Get on top of it.
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