Back in November on a podcast I co-hosted called Coast To Coast with my buddy Tyler Stowers, I presented a premature theory on how Kobe Bryant should consider ending his career. It was early in the NBA season at the time and Kobe was playing 35+ minutes on a Laker team that could only compete with a 36-year-old Kobe playing at an unreasonably high volume. He was averaging 27 points per game and at the top of the league in scoring. Given the brutal deficiencies of the roster, and with Kobe’s mere sanity in mind, I proposed that he switch things up and play out the remainder of his career overseas.
This week’s latest Kobe news brings my proposition back to surface, per a report from El Periodico:
“Bryant has told us he would be willing to help us with whatever and that he would like to finish his career with Barça next to Pau Gasol,” said FC Barcelona’s director of pro sports Albert Soler. “I don’t know if an NBA star finishing his career in Europe is something realistic or not, but in the end it’s the players who make the call on where they play.”
Not only does Kobe apparently welcome this idea, but he’d be open to finishing his career in Spain if Pau Gasol were to join him. Kobe and Pau won NBA titles together on the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, and both of their NBA contracts happen to expire after the 2015-16 season.
Is this possible? Could this really happen? I believe the answer to both questions is you better believe it. Kobe has personal ties to Europe, sure, he grew up in Italy and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. But I see this as a possibility more so because of Kobe’s inherent desire to go out on his terms. As it stands, the Lakers don’t have a glorious farewell run prepared for Kobe’s last contract season. The motivation to finish his playing career elsewhere, knowing that it wouldn’t be for another NBA team, would only derive from the motivation to go out as a winner.
In terms of the ramifications, as I alluded to in my podcast segment, this would have the potential to take the all-time great conversation to a place it’s never been before. No NBA player, let alone one of Kobe’s caliber, has gone overseas to play after their NBA career. If he were to win championships over there, what then? The dynamic of the conversation would be unprecedented.
And so I not only continue to support this notion, but now have legitimate reason to contend that it might actually come to pass.