Mark Heisler: Kobe Bryant headed to Greece? Get a clue.
When TV networks began inventing spectator sports to fill their programming holes, a new word was born: “trashsports.” This was in the '70s, before anyone had ever heard of the "X Games," which are Trashsports Incarnate.
Now, with the Internet fanning speculation into "stories" to help fill its infinite hole, we need a new term: “trashnews.”
An Italian website, basketcentral, just claimed to have information from “inside the club,” that the Greek team Olympiakos will offer Kobe Bryant a three-year, tax-free $60-million deal plus a seaside villa, a yacht and a personal staff. By this morning, it had surfaced in the “mainstream media,” or at least ESPN’s “Morning Buzz.”
As far as any real basis for this, it's entirely circumstantial, or at most on the Greeks' part, wishful thinking.
Olympiakos is the team that stunned the NBA last summer, signing Josh Childress away from the Atlanta Hawks, although it only took a three-year, $20-million deal. With Panathinaikos,* its Greek rival, and CSKA Moscow, otherwise known as Red Army, it’s one of the three deep-pockets European teams that could come up with major money.
However, even at a tax-free $20 million per, this offer would be well below the price that Bryant joked last summer he would need to go overseas: $40 million a year.
This stuff will continue until next summer when Bryant signs an extension -- with whomever. However, unless he’s really ready to go overseas, this is as speculative as speculation gets. Bryant surely appreciates the leverage -- and may refuse to knock the idea down to keep it -- but the Kobe I know isn’t going overseas for a long, long time.
No one has ever been more aware of his legacy,and three NBA titles plus five more in Greece wouldn’t add up to Michael Jordan’s six NBA titles. Also, Nike, which pays Bryant more than enough to make up the difference, would surely prefer him here rather than there.
In other words, get a clue.
-- Mark Heisler
* Editor's note: The spelling of the team Panathinaikos was corrected at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
Photo: Kobe Bryant during a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images