Kobe Bryant was talking about playing professionally in Turkey this time last season. According to a report this week, that might not just be a lockout thing for Bryant. While he's been on record that his NBA career may conclude when his Lakers contract is up in two years, he added recently that is pro career may not end then. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Kobe is open to playing out his final years in Europe. Back where it all started for him and his pops.
This report via NESN:
Bryant may return to his roots and play in a European league after his NBA career is over, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes. Bryant, who lived overseas while his father, Joe Bryant, played on various teams, said he's open to spending a year in Europe. "It would be natural for me to go do it," said Bryant, who can speak Italian and Spanish and is more than comfortable with European culture. "It wouldn't be a stretch at all. I grew up here."
From a marketing standpoint, a move like this could open up some major opportunities as he transitions into life after basketball. Already the most popular player in China, Kobe could solidify his brand worldwide with a few solid seasons in as pro in Europe. At the age of 36 or 37, one would have to think he'd still be competing on a relative high level. If he followed the recent career arc's of guys like Jason Kidd and Kevin Garnett, there's no reason to think he can't play in the NBA until he's 40. He could make a major impact not only on the court, but off it as well for whichever European club he ended up signing on with. There's certainly worst ways than that to go out if indeed this ends up materializing.