The Taliban is willing to negotiate peace with the United States and disband from al-Qaeda, but the proposed deal hinges on the NBA agreeing to shift its operational headquarters to Kabul. It’s just unfortunate that U.S. president Barack Obama, a keen basketballer, is reluctant to ink the deal that sends his favourite sporting competition offshore.
That’s according to Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, the former acting prime minister of Afghanistan from 1995-96, who conducted closed-door talks with Taliban officials earlier this month following the news that the NBA had entered a lockout phase.
Ahmadzai told ThePublicApology that the Taliban is interested in bringing the NBA to Kabul to spur a grassroots basketball movement in Afghanistan and the broader Middle Eastern zone.
“Basically, the guys [Taliban] have gotten over the rush that comes from holding Americans in a state of fear; now they just want to kick back and watch some quality uninterrupted basketball on the Al-Jazeera network. This is not an effort to bring down basketball in America, but a bid to expand basketball in the Middle East,” he said.
Ahmadzai said the deal would involve each NBA franchise relocating to a certain area or province of Afghanistan; the short straw being Ghazni, the most dangerous province in the embattled country according to a recent NGO report. An NBA Lottery, drawn by current commissioner David Stern, will decide where each franchise relocates to.
Ahmadzai added that the Taliban planned to pay the athletes in arms, drugs and spare cash that they had accumulated from various Middle Eastern donors, including the Saudi government, which will allay fears of future lockouts over pay disputes.
But the deal cannot go through without the consent of Obama, who is reportedly more concerned about Derrick Rose backing up his 2010/11 MVP status than ending the war on terror and initiating world peace.
“The Taliban has engaged with Obama since the lockout first arose to push the deal through, but Obama has shown opposition at every stage,” Ahmadzai said.
Obama told reporters that palming NBA players offshore would be “a sign of weakness – and we cannot bow to the enemy.”
“I’m skeptical. Why would the Taliban suddenly want to bring the NBA to Afghanistan? I think they’re looking to brainwash our most influential players – you know, guys like LeBron James and Chris Bosh – into making anti-America tweets from overseas,” Obama mused.
“It’s the perfect plan. Man, Americans will believe anything when it comes out of an NBA player’s mouth. Shit, I remember when MJ (Michael Jordan) and Spike Lee did that Nike ad back in the early 90s when I was at Harvard – I went straight out and bought me some Air Jordans so I could be like Mike.”
Obama’s military advisers, however, are reportedly trying to convince the president to sign the deal provided it involves the staged reintegration of NBA players – and the competition headquarters – back to America.
“The sensible thing to do is to slowly withdraw players from Kabul until 2014, at which point we expect to have no presence in Afghanistan whatsoever,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, Obama’s top military adviser.
By Dave Edwards