Report: Bryant could finish career in Europe

Superstar lived in Italy while growing up

Author: By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 07 2012 09:07:19 AM EDT
Kobe Bryant leaving court, Lakers, Thunder

Kobe Bryant is intrigued by the notion of finishing his basketball career in Europe, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

Bryant, 33, lived in Italy while growing up when his father, Joe Bryant, played professionally there, and he speaks Spanish and Italian fluently.

When asked in London about the possibility of playing a season in Europe, Bryant told Yahoo! Sports: "It would be natural for me to go do it. It wouldn't be a stretch at all. I grew up here."

Bryant plans to play out the final two years of his Lakers contract, then reassess his career and his ambitions.

He seems sentimental about Italy, and he could market his Nike products in Europe for years to come.

"You'd have to look at the market and what's going on in terms of the level of basketball being played," Bryant said. "I understand there's a high level of competitive basketball in Turkey now. They might have the best league in Europe. Spain has obviously been one of the top leagues for a long time.

"And Italy is a place that's dear in my heart, I grew up there, but the level is not where it used to be. When I was growing up over there, that was the best league in Europe."

During last year's lockout, Bryant considered several offers and was about to sign a $2 million deal to play in China before the China Basketball Association passed a rule forbidding its teams to sign NBA stars to deals that let them opt out once the NBA lockout ended.