- Ric Bucher, NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer
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The six-game, four-continent World All-Star Classic exhibition tour featuring two squads of All-Star NBA players is on hold, with Sunday's scheduled game in San Juan, Puerto Rico, postponed indefinitely.
The other five games on the tour, scheduled for London, Macau and Australia, already had been pushed back until late November. There was hope the game in San Juan could be salvaged and serve as proof to the other venues and investors that Atlanta businessman Cal Darden and his son, Cal Jr., were capable of pulling off the event.
Cal Darden Sr. could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman told The Associated Press a new date for the San Juan game will be announced by Nov. 3.
Sources close to the organizers said that as of October 23, contracts had been signed with 18 of the league's biggest names, including Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.
Players were promised anywhere from six figures to $1 million to participate, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard.
Rose and Westbrook withdrew on Tuesday, Rose citing a conflict with the USO Tour he participated in along with his offseason training schedule.
James, Anthony and Paul later decided not to take part, sources with knowledge of the situation told Broussard. The players want to use the lockout to spend more time with their families, and Paul wanted to be available for labor meetings with the NBA's owners, sources said.
Howard has also backed out, sources told the Orlando Sentinel on Friday.
By Thursday, sources said there were also questions about whether Durant and Bryant planned to participate.
It remained to be seen if the game in Puerto Rico and the rest of the tour would be resurrected in light of NBA commissioner David Stern canceling regular-season games through Nov. 30 after labor talks broke off Friday without a deal.
Tickets already had been selling briskly in Puerto Rico, sources close to the organizers said, but there were no provisions made for refunds if the event was canceled or postponed.
Ric Bucher is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The start of the World All-Star Classic exhibition tour featuring NBA star players has been has been postponed.