Why Kobe Will Flirt With Europe

Brinson has discussedAdrian Wojnarowski's inside account of Kobe Bryant's persona positioning with regards to his behavior in Beijing. But Woj's Yahoo! story has another news hook in there, one regarding a topic common since July.

[A] source close to [Kobe's] camp says that European powers have reached out quietly to his representation and set baselines for a possible free-agent contract. Offers of $30 million a year in Greece and Italy promise to be on the table, and, says one associate, "I guarantee whatever happens that Kobe will take that whole European thing down to the wire before he re-signs with the Lakers."

This is not without precedent ... in terms of Kobe leading a suitor on for (depending on your cynicism) leverage, attention or publicized affection (which is, in a way, a combination of leverage and attention). Remember 2004? Elgin Baylor and Elton Brand won't forget it. Kobe had everyone on the planet believing the Clippers were an honest option, especially the Clippers.

Even after Kobe's Corleone moment to get Shaquille O'Neal jettisoned to Miami, Bryant kept up the show for no financial reason. The Clippers could give Kobe nothing the Lakers wouldn't. (In fact, it was the opposite: with the Lakers, Kobe could get a no-trade clause written in. The collective bargaining agreement didn't allow the Clips to offer one.) It was all about attention, public expressions of love. It's really hard to argue otherwise.

So even if the money doesn't make sense in Athens or Rome, can we expect Kobe to play it straight and quietly sign a max extension with the Lakers? Woj's sources say no. They make perfect logical sense. If some Euro billionaire makes a fat (and very public) offer, I think we can at least expect Kobe to flirt. The record is pretty telling.

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