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Kobe and LeBron to Europe -- as if

LeBron James speaks to the media after a Thursday practice in Beijing.

BEIJING -- Proving that the truth will emerge from the marketplace of ideas ... in inverse proportion to the number of press people on the story ... multiplied by a factor of 1,000 if said press people have access to the Internet ... Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are not currently entertaining fantastic, or made-up, offers to play for European teams.

Bryant’s throwaway line three days ago about playing in Europe if someone offers him $40 million has now turned into a series of “reports,” like the one that says the Greek team, Olympiakos, which just signed Josh Childress, will offer James $50 million per season (SI.com).

Meanwhile, LeBron’s people told ESPN Magazine that he has been contacted by European teams before and would be “strongly interested” if someone comes up with $50 million — per -- when he’s a free agent in 2010.

Cleveland Cavaliers staffers who used to flip out at any suggestion of James signing with a New York team in 2010 -- by the way, he has been wearing a Yankee's cap throughout this trip -- now have to come to grips with a list that goes like this:

Knicks.

Nets.

Real Madrid.

CSKA Moscow.

FC Barcelona.

Olympikos.

Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Benetton Treviso.

At this point, the operative words are "will offer" and "would" be interested -- meaning absolutely nothing has happened aside from throwing big numbers all over cyberspace.

Someone should make up something more realistic; $40 million is almost 80% of an entire NBA’s team’s salary cap. NBA teams can support payrolls that high only because each of them get $30 million annually from the network TV deal and they play 82 games, after which come eight weeks of playoffs.

European teams get a tiny percentage of the NBA's TV money, their season lasts about 35 games, their arenas aren't NBA-sized, they don't know from luxury suites and their post-season tournaments are single elimination, not best-of-seven series.

Aside from that, it was nice knowing you, 'Bron.

I asked an NBA spokesman for a comment. He said for $50 million, he’d go to a European team too.

-- Mark Heisler

Photo: U.S. men's basketball player LeBron James speaks to the media after a Thursday practice in Beijing. Credit: Nelson Ching / Bloomberg News

 
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Comments (4)

Any columnist who mentions "hes been wearing a Yankee's hat throughout his trip to China" Doesn't deserve to be read. Carmelo has also been wearing a Yankees hat, is he going to New York? On the first day, I seen LeBron wearing an Indians hat. Does this mean he is going to new york to play basketball, but staying in Cleveland to play Baseball?

LeBron should go get 50 mill a year! I would, who would not?!!!! Thats before endorsements, the NBA will have to deal with the growing popularity and competitiveness of the sport.

LeBron, Cleveland loves you, but we understand you have got to make the most out of this life, and that includes money! Travel, Live Life to the Fullest!

Go LEBRON!

Love the kicker! It cracked me up.

I'm an Olympiakos fan. You mention some random european teams that i guess you think could be 'interested' in Lebron, like Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, Olympiakos, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Benetton Treviso. Here's the situation in Europe. CSKA Moscow has been spending the most over the past years, followed by Panathinaikos. Olympiakos is currently the richest team though, as the new young and wealthy owners are willing to pay a lot. Posey recently turned down a 11.5 million $ per year offer, Anthony Parker, Stojakovic and Kirilenko were also offered 20m for 2-3 years but were not FAs, until Childress accepted his 20m/3 years offer. One thing is for sure, you'll be hearing of Olympiakos in the future as well. Other european teams that would be WILLING or even obligated (the competition is fierce) to follow to these payroll heights are surely CSKA and Panathinaikos. I only see CSKA as ABLE to do so in a long term though. Barcelona and Real Madrid are by no means big or wise spenders. Maccabi Tel Aviv prefers low-paid semi-unknown Americans and their strategy is not affected by what the rest teams spend. There are some Russian teams that are starting to pay a lot of money but we have to wait and see for those. Italian teams are clearly a joke. They suck and they don't spend money. Nothing more to say.


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