This Josh Childress thing is, above all else, absolutely fucking hilarious. It's an embarrassment to the NBA—after all, you've got a lottery pick whose has developed his talent despite an adverse situation, ready to take on the league, threatening out of sheer frustration to pack it up and take his game overseas.
Brandon Jennings wants to change the system. Foreigners can return to the FIBA environment. Plain and simple, Childress belongs in the NBA. He just doesn't think of the Hawks as a valid NBA team, so much so that he's willing to make all sorts of personal and professional adjustments if it means finding some sort of credible situation.
I don't want to get all quasi-political here, but a player like Childress belongs in the NBA. That's the real threat international leagues pose: Not as a bigger draw in these troubled economic times, or as a reactionary barrier against Stern's plans for a worldwide brand. Far more gravely, they can actually erode the NBA as we know it. Letting players do what we fans have always wanted to do—i.e., completely disrespect organizations—and from there, take away from the base we pretty much count on inhabiting the NBA. As much as Jennings will be the glamor story, if Childress goes, and performs well, and enjoys himself, all of a sudden we might have another NBA/ABA situation on our hands.
And if Stern is wise, which he is, that's the situation he'll look back to. Over here, we still regard non-American teams as second-tier; unlike the ABA, international play is seen as both inferior and superior, deficient in pure ability but more akin to some people's vision of pure basketball. At the very least, it's different, and in theory, the Euro invasion was supposed to bring some of its ethos into the decaying league. That didn't quite work out, and the fact that it preceded this opposition on horizon kind of fucks up the ABA parallel.
At this point, the only smart interpretation is that overseas player can augment the NBA's identity, not overtake it. The other option is that it eats away at the league's core, further compromising it without exactly exporting it intact. The solutions? The safe play would be for Stern to somehow intervene and stem this hypothetical flow of talent to overseas. Make sure the Hawks let Childress go and maybe reconsider that age limit (because not everyone who heads there out of high school will be Brandon Jennings). Then again, these could be the first steps, or falling dominoes, toward a unified international league.
Stern wants a worldwide NBA franchise brand, and we can quibble over whether a merger of sorts would be a contradiction or compromise. It partly goes back to this tricky notion of the NBA's "identity." No longer is it as simple as a too-black game needing some whitening and fundamentals. Unlike the ABA's showmanship and creativity, it's not clear at this point what the international game does to enhance the NBA.
Then again, if the NBA itself starts to dissipate, then combining the two might be an exercise in pragmatism, not archetypes and keywords.