First, he would have been willing to go overseas at the right price. Then he was just kidding to take pressure of LeBron and amuse his teammates on the national squad. Now, Kobe Bryant wants no part of talking about hooping it up on another continent.
As reported by Elliott Teaford of the LA Daily News:
Bryant apparently has no intention of re-igniting talk of a jump to Europe in the near future. During the Beijing Olympics, he suggested that it's not out of the question that he or another NBA superstar would take the money and run to Europe.
He then said at the start of training camp last month that he was only joking.
But with the billionaire owner of the Greek team Olympiacos on record as saying he intends to open an office in New York next summer in order to pursue NBA stars, Bryant and Cleveland's LeBron James would seem like natural targets.
"Next question," Bryant said when asked about it.
"Next question," he said when pressed.
"Next question," he said when a reporter tried a third time.
It's always good to make sure we've got our annual fill of Drew Rosenhaus-ism.
Seems like Kobe has been trying every approach to get the international issue to die down. The "Sure, whatever, I'll go with the flow" got people buzzing. The "I was just kidding" worked for a bit, and now it's unlikely that Bryant's refusal to chat about the situation will reduce much of the speculation. That he has a player option for the 2009-10 seaosn on his contract will only add to the intrigue.
Given the level of competition here and Bryant's desire to be known as the best, it's hard to see him leaving for any league that might not provide the opportunities the NBA does to advance that label for himself. With LeBron still here (as he will be thanks to his contract with Cleveland running through 2010), it's hard to see Bryant going anywhere all too soon.