NBA Rumors: Why Kobe Bryant Will Never Finish His Career in Europe

It seems for the past two Olympic Games we've been inundated with little rumblings about Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant bolting the NBA to ride off into the basketball sunset in Europe.

Bryant, who is fluent in both Italian and Spanish, has long had the largest international following of any NBA player and has strong ties to Italy after spending seven years there as a child.

At 2008's Summer Games in Beijing, Bryant sat down with Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski to discuss possibly playing overseas. At the time, Bryant was heading into the opt-out year of his contract and had just told the Boston Globe a day earlier that he would "probably" leave Los Angeles for Italy if offered $50 million.

Bryant elaborated to Wojnarowski:

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.

As we should have then, we all know now that the hypothetical $50 million was nothing more than a false narrative built on fairytale European money. We also know that Bryant certainly wasn't going to leave after winning an NBA championship in 2009.

And with after signing a three-year, $83 million contract extension in 2010, the time for Bryant, who turns 34 on August 23, to play in Italy or elsewhere overseas during his prime has passed.

That certainly isn't going to stop the European narrative, though.

Again two years away from free agency, Bryant talked the overseas possibility with Wojnarowki for a second time this week in London. Only this bit of European speculation centered around Bryant heading over as a 36-year-old man taking his basketball "victory lap."

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers