Kobe and LeBron to Europe -- as if
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:
Maccabi Tel Aviv.
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