"I'd go. I'd probably go," said Bryant, during a USA Basketball press conference on Friday morning. "Like Milan or something like that, where I grew up or something like that ... Peace out."No, no I don't. Last time Kobe talked Europe, it seemed like a punchline. But when he specifically discusses Italy and mentions he has friends there (as he does in the conversation with the Globe), that indicates at least mildly serious thought has gone into the idea.
Bryant continued: "Do you know any reasonable person that would turn down 50 (million dollars)?
Kobe's a whole different sack of potatoes when it comes to the NBA and Europe. KBB makes good endorsement money, but nothing like LeBron (blame Colorado). While LBJ would be 25 at the date of his proposed exit, Kobe'll be 31, with at least three (and maybe four, Bynum willing) championships. His MVP 2007-08 campaign almost cemented his legacy as one of the best two-guards ever, and (other than a Shaq-less title) he has little left to prove stateside. This is completely different from LeBron, who hasn't won an MVP nor a ring, and has a shot to eclipse MJ as the G.O.A.T. if he continues his war against basketball gravity.
Similarly, the NBA wouldn't gnash its intestines too much if Kobe replaced LeBron on the first boat east. Losing both would be murder, but the league's much less tied to Kobe's star than that of LeBron. The NBA -- more importantly, TNT and ABC and ESPN -- would miss Kobe, one of the few remaining stars who can sell out buildings on the road. But they'd miss King James much, much more.