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.