For the second offseason in a row, Kobe Bryant is looking to give the Lakers fans and front office headaches. This time, however, he’s adding some international flair. The guard told YAHOO! SPORTS “that he won’t sign a contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers until he has tested the global market,” on Saturday.
Bryant, who lived in Italy as a child and owns a stake in Olimpia Milano of the Italian League, says he plans to “solicit overseas offers before signing an extension.”
According to the report, Bryant could possibly leave the NBA for Europe in a dual role of owner and player as early as next summer. The Lakers have Bryant locked up until the 2010-11 season but the reigning MVP can opt out after next season.
Kobe tells YAHOO! SPORTS:
“As players, the business of the game (is) evolving, 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.”
After seeing Josh Childress leave the NBA to chase the fine females of Greece while making $20 million to play basketball for Olympiakos, and the departures of Carlos Delfino and Juan Carlos Navarro for the European leagues, Kobe says, “Childress, Delfino, and all these other offers start coming up and all of a sudden you start hearing the talk circulating from teams over there and what they’re willing to do. As athletes, you have to listen to that. That’s the least you can do.”
According to the report, some basketball insiders believe Bryant’s ultimate ambition, besides having everyone refer to him as “Black Mamba,” might be to play for and have majority ownership of an elite Italian team. No word on whether or not the Italians’ stance on infidelity, or lack there of, plays a factor in this “ultimate ambition” for the 29 year-old guard, but it couldn’t hurt. If Kobe’s Colorado adventure were more of a Caligari adventure, Vanessa Bryant’s jewelry box would probably be short of a $4 million ring.
While the sound of owning and playing for a team in country that has no problem with guys getting a little action on side may sound enticing, “Bryant conceded that it would be ‘Almost impossible … very difficult …’ to leave the Lakers.