Well this news will definetely turn your stomach. But at the end of the day, I guess we can ask ourselves this – did Jordan EVER leave the NBA to go play in Europe (or elsewhere) in his prime?

Yahoo! Sports: Kobe Bryant won’t sign a contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers until he has tested the global market, the U.S. Olympic basketball star told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.

Asked whether he plans to solicit overseas offers before signing an extension, Bryant flatly said yes.

It’s possible Bryant could leave the NBA for Europe – perhaps in a dual role of owner and player – as early as next summer. Bryant is signed with the Lakers through the 2010-11 season, but can opt out after next season.

Suddenly, the best player in the world seems determined to pair the changing global economics with his unparalleled popularity to create an international bidding war. A day earlier, Bryant told the Boston Globe that he would consider a $50 million offer to play in Europe.

“As players, the business of the game (is) evolving,” Bryant said before a Team USA practice at Beijing Normal University. “I think free agency now is becoming a global thing …. When players become free agents, the team they’re currently with – their competition is no longer the rest of the teams in the NBA. But it’s global. So, the market’s opened up. So we’ll just have to see how the league responds to it.”

Bryant spent several years of his childhood in Italy and loves it there. Seven years ago, he bought an ownership stake in Olimpia Milano of the Italian league for his father Joe to run. When Bryant was asked whether he held intrigue with owning and playing on a team together, he said, “Absolutely.”

Some basketball executives believe Bryant’s ultimate ambition might be to have a majority ownership with a powerhouse Italian team while serving as its superstar. What’s more, Bryant, 29, insists that it wouldn’t be such a leap of faith for him to leave the NBA.

“I think people kind of make it out to be a little more than what it is,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Kobe says Europe a possibilty’

  • http://myspace.com/sonicussj Whatsa

    Oh well.

    we n33d moar mon3eezz$$

  • DCLAKER

    KOBE’S NEW THEME MUSIK,

  • airrics23

    Kobe isn’t going anywhere. He will just use this as levrage. PERIOD!!!

  • lakrfan4life

    hes pulling a sasha, dont worry about it guys, hes a laker4life

  • Kobe8>24

    [Comment ID #48416 Will Be Quoted Here]

    my thoughts exactly..

  • Kobe2k9

    [Comment ID #48418 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Leverage for what? The lakers can’t match anything from 35-50 mil, but i don’t think he will go anytime soon, but once he feels complete with NBA, he will probably be gone. And if he goes, Lebron will go for sure and then the NBA will do away with the salary cap, age limit, and hopefully implement football salary rules where you have to perform for your money because it won’t be all guaranteed and then we don’t have to worry about anymore Luke waltons on our team, then we have a better league and then KOBE AND LEBRON will come back after one year, and thus global competition will be eliminated. But seriously who turns down $50 million dollars tax free for playing less games, less travel, and more time with your family

  • Majic “Big” Johnson

    I say if the Kobester does not come back to the Lakers, we make a run for LBJ. Straight up.

  • Michaelmichael

    stay kobe stay dont leave

  • MILO

    YOU PEOPLE ARE STUPID! THIS IS ALL BULL SH!T!

  • Jloyola

    [Comment ID #48433 Will Be Quoted Here]

    why? who wouldnt take more tax-free money

    Imagine companies like Nike, Gatorade, etc making their names bigger in Europe especially with a huge superstars such as Kobe, Lebron, or CP3 representing them

  • http://www.jamieinsider.com Jamie Spears Insider

    Kobe is stating the obvious. Of course he has to listen to global offers. Will he take them? Probably not.

  • me

    eff Global, if kobe ever leaves the LAKERS he gets the middle finger of my hand

  • Lakezilla

    I know 50 mil a year would be hard to turn down but I think winning a championship without Shaq is first in his heart. That aspect of his career would be very important to secure is basketball legacy. Now if the Lakers win the championship next year, he would’ve accomplished that and it will be more tempting to leave if someone throws crazy money at him.

  • LakersFirst

    Americans have to realize that basketball is no longer an “American” sport, it has become a global sport (international play has now caught up with American play). I don’t think Kobe will opt-out of his contract next year and sign with a team in Europe but I do think that Kobe won’t sign an extension, and when his contract is up in 3 seasons, when he’ll be 33, then you’ll see him take off to Europe. This is definitely a possibility. Remember Kobe lived in Italy, speaks Italian and enjoys Europe.

    The business side of basketball is becoming very similar to soccer. The MLS gets international players who are at the end, or ending, their prime. I think Kobe would do something similar. He’ll play in Europe towards the end of his prime and probably get paid a lot (think Beckham – $250M over 5 years).

    There is a difference betweeen global soccer and basketball, however. In soccer, players who play in Europe are in their prime because not only is the competition better, the pay is better (look at Brazil, the stars of Brazilian soccer play in Europe. Ronaldinho now plays in Italy as does Kaka). In basketball, the players who are in their prime will need to make a decision, do I play in America where the competition is better and make less money, or do I play in Europe where I can make more money with less competition? Lebron James is a young player who will have to answer this question and if someone offers him $50M for a season, don’t be surprised if he takes off to Europe when he can opt-out of his Cleveland contract.

  • Peanut Butter Spread

    I doubt it’ll happen. As an athlete, he can consider all the offers, but I doubt he’ll ever play with an Europe team (unless he’s going to pull a Jordan ala at the end of his career like Jordan did with the Wizards, Kobe could play for Italy at the end of his career).

    Kobe likes messing with the media. But hey, he could be serious. At the end, it just matters on how the Lakers play, how he feels and where he wants to be. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

    But for the present, let’s just see how TEAM USA fairs and how the Lakers will do next season.

  • gmikan99

    I too doubt that Kobe won’t blot for Europe in 2009. Especially if he hasn’t lead the Lakers to an NBA title.

    As far as using Europe as leverage, I doubt the Lakers will do anything that will hurt them financially. They never been “bullied” into bad contracts.

    I will say, if he did leave, then don’t come back. I still remember back in 2004 when he was talking about going to the Clippers and Bulls and in the end came back to the Lakers. I also remember last years tirade about going to the Bulls. I’m not a fan of players who openly discuss leaving a team that you are already under contract to play for. At least wait till the time comes.

    I like how LeBron handled all the talk about European offers and that he was not really going to discuss it because he was still under contract.

    My opinion, David Stern better start taking the European threat seriously, because the NBA has no control over TV rights from these leagues as far as I know and the US is still a very big market for basketball. Too bad there are no tampering rules against non-NBA teams, but that would probably not be enforceable even if they existed.

  • http://getgarnett Louis

    PLEASE KOBE PLEASE DON’T LEAVE KOBE YOU ARE ALREADY MAKING ENOUGH MONEY DON”T YOU WANT TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THE LAKERS. COME ON THIS A PERFECT CHANCE. LAKERS ARE A GOOD TEAM. BETTER THAN BOSTON.I AM SURE THAT LAKERS ARE GOING TO
    HELP YOU OUT.

  • BEC

    Obviously for 50mill a year anyone will go to europe.
    Make 20mill+ more a year or NBA title? Thats a no brainer for anyone. Its all about the money, a title without shaq doesnt mean more to Kobe than 50mill a year.

    I doubt a Euro team can even afford to pay a player 50mill a year. The highest paid in Euro only makes like 15mill a year. Basketball isnt big enough in euro to pay a player 50mill a year. The highest paid player in italy is earl boykins at 3.5mill. Thats why theres not even any leverage Kobe can use.

  • JC

    If Kobe moves to Europe I’m goin to… =)~

  • Kb_24mvp

    Kobe Bro!!! Do what u think is right for you my brother!!! your gonna be a Laker for life no matter what!! Go play for your home team Italy!! and come Back in a year with that paper!!! and be ready to ball when u come back!!

  • ab4sure

    [Comment ID #48513 Will Be Quoted Here]

    There are a couple of billionaire’s in Europe who own teams so money is no problem. Remember Galaxy paid Beckam 50 million a yr. becuz they have a billionaire owner.

  • getthefoutkobe

    Please leave KOBE – we don’t need more drama – I really hope Buss don’t give you an extension – because you’re not worth it as a person.

  • steve