â†µLast month, Kobe Bryant was sitting on a folding chair following another practice at the U.S. senior national team’s training camp at Valley High in Las Vegas. He was surrounded by maybe eight or 10 reporters ready to ask him questions about all sorts of different subjects, most regarding the Americans’ impending trip to China for the Olympic Games.
â†µGiven that erstwhile Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Childress recently had signed to take his game to Greece, and that we weren’t all that far removed from U.S. high schooler Brandon Jennings accepting an offer to play in Italy, somebody asked if Bryant would accept a $50 million offer to play in Europe. â†µâ†µ
â†µ“Fifty million, two years? We goin’ to Milan. We in Milan,” Bryant said. â†µâ†µ
â†µHe pointed to Dwyane Wade, seated nearby. â†µâ†µ
â†µ“See that. That’s the backcourt. Fifty million, two years. We’re there. And ownership,” Bryant said. “(For) ownership, five years. Done.” â†µâ†µ
â†µThen, and this will be hard to quote with precise accuracy, he said, “Ha, ha, ha.” (How does one spell out a hearty laugh, anyway?) â†µâ†µ
â†µRead over his quotes again, if you like. He mocked the question. He considered it to be a joke. Because no one has offered him, or anyone else, $50 million a year to play basketball in Europe, and it’s likely no one ever will, because he wouldn’t take it if it were offered during his prime. â†µâ†µ
â†µElsewhere journalists all over the world are pretending it’s actual news that someone close to LeBron James supposedly said that if he were offered $50 million a year by a European team after his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers expires in 2010, he would consider it. â†µâ†µ
â†µSince that absurdly hypothetical story got some traction, journalists have spent their downtime between USA Basketball blowouts posing the same theoretical question to other U.S. players. Bryant was asked about it again in China and gave it a more serious answer, having obviously been coached by his agent not to dismiss anything that might drive up his personal bargaining power. Or, for that matter, that of the NBA Players Association, which will be working with the league on a new collective bargaining agreement early next decade. â†µâ†µ
â†µGoodness, this got out of hand quickly. Instead of running to the press room, pretending they had an exclusive, those who heard Kobe ’s response in Beijing should’ve reacted the same way everybody did when he was doing his Vegas routine. â†µâ†µ
â†µ“Ha, ha, ha.” Or something like that. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.