Kobe Bryant May Play In Turkey

Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video on Flickr

In the NBA lockout engulfed world we currently live in, uncertainty exists regarding what many players will do to fill up their time during the lockout. Will they get hobbies? Will they follow in the footsteps of Delonte West (and many other players) and work on a music career?

Many NBA players have already signed agreements to play for European teams, and nearly every NBA star has been rumored to be “interested” (or some other vague word), in signing with an overseas team. Given today’s FIBA release, allowing for the transfer of NBA players to overseas teams, an increasing possibility exists that we’ll see a decent number of NBA players on teams overseas next year. Kobe Bryant’s name has been one prominently mentioned over the last couple of weeks as being interested in playing in Europe, and the reports are only growing.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will be in the nation’s capital attending the World Football Challenge featuring Manchester United and F.C. Barcelona at FedEx Field on Saturday and the Mia Hamm-Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge on Sunday at Kastles Stadium.

Soccer won’t be the only sport on Bryant’s agenda, however, as the 15-year NBA veteran and his representatives will meet with officials from the Turkish basketball club Besiktas on Saturday, according to a Reuters report.

“At the moment there’s a 50 percent chance that Kobe may come to Turkey,” said Seref Yalcin, head of basketball operations for Besiktas, on Tuesday. Yalcin made the comments to reporters in Turkey, according to Reuters. “Everything will be clearer after the meeting on the 30th [of July].”

via Report: Kobe Bryant, Beskitas to meet

Well, this is interesting. When stories like this are reported, in which a team official or GM comes out and talks about how a player is genuinely considering playing for their team, it often indicates that the official is trying to drum up press for the idea and encourage other players (and Bryant) to be interested in said team (in this case, Beskitas). Of course, Yalcin may have been told from Bryant himself (most likely his representatives) that he’s very intrigued by the option of playing for the team alongside Nets elite point guard Deron Williams.

If a meeting does indeed happen between Bryant and the Turkish team on July 30th, I expect the talks of NBA stars playing overseas during the lockout to only intensify further. But all part of me doubts that Kobe would be interested in possibly endangering his NBA career’s longevity by playing for a year in Turkey. Adrian Wojnarowski has said that Kobe “is willing to listen to overseas offers”, but I doubt his interest will extend much beyond listening. I’m sure he’s always keen to further his global brand and compete, but I’m also sure he doesn’t want to casually use up a precious year of playing time, championship chasing, and stat-gaining in the NBA. He’s recently had experimental knee surgery, and knee issues have been a recurring problem as he’s aged during the past few years. Once your knees are completely gone, it’s not easy to get them back (Somewhere, a Blazers’ fan cries a single tear).

So, maybe Kobe will end up playing in Turkey next season alongside Deron Williams. Maybe Mr. Yalcin of Beskitas will wow him with tales of global branding and an existent salary, something the NBA can’t currently offer him. But it seems unlikely, because Kobe Bryant is still Kobe Bryant, and he still likes doing Kobe Bryant things. That means winning, but in the NBA. Kobe isn’t risking his health and another chance at a championship easily.

Despite all of this, it would be interesting to see how Kobe’s personality would mesh with the crowds overseas and in Turkey. Would the Turkish people appreciate the Kobe jaw jut, or the classic Kobe Bryant “I’m very angry with you right now, Derek Fisher. But I respect you too much to tell you that bluntly, so I’ll give you this angry stare.” eyes? Maybe they would. Maybe they already do.

But for now, I tend to believe that Kobe will play basketball professionally again after the lockout ends (whenever that beautiful day falls) with that same good-old Kobe persona. Maybe he’ll even have a brand new pair of android knees in tow.