This is not a new refrain, but it doesn’t make it any more likely.
Kobe Bryant has said again he might choose to end his career with a couple years in Europe after the NBA. This time he said it to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports while both were in London for the Olympics.
“It would be natural for me to go do it. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all. I grew up here….
“You’d have to look at the market and what’s going on in terms of the level of basketball being played,” Bryant said. “I understand there’s a high level of competitive basketball in Turkey now. They might have the best league in Europe. Spain has obviously been one of the top leagues for a long time. And Italy is a place that’s dear in my heart, I grew up there, but the level is not where it used to be. When I was growing up over there, that was the best league in Europe.”
There is some logic to this. As Kobe said, he spent his formative years (years of elementary school and junior high) in Italy as his father played professionally there. He speaks Italian and Spanish and is very comfortable on the European circuit. He even talks of owning a soccer team.
Also, Kobe is still the biggest of the international brands among NBA players. LeBron James is the better player now — and you could argue Kevin Durant and others have passed him on the court at this moment — but nobody is an international star like Kobe.
But that’s one of he reasons I don’t think he would do it — right now there is a real mystique because Europeans only see him on television and in ads. To bring his declining game — still at a very high level, but where will his knees let it be in two years after his NBA contract runs out? Or a couple years after that if he re-signs? — could kill some of that mystery, but they would only see a shadow of the former Kobe.
Maybe that would be enough. Maybe. But my guess is Kobe rides off into the sunset after his NBA career ends. Whenever that is.