Last week, Kobe told the Los Angeles Times that he would not be opposed to playing in Europe next season in the event of a lockout.
While this was far from being a definite response from Kobe, it still raises some eyebrows and questions concerning NBA players going to play overseas if the NBA was to go into a lockout.
For instance, would leaving for Europe possibly tarnish or even ruin Kobe's career?
For a second, we will play devil's advocate. Let's pretend that the entire 2011-2012 season will be lost to a lockout and the league would allow the players to go overseas to play. Now let's pretend Kobe would for sure play in Europe if given the chance. Would this hurt Kobe or the NBA more?
Remember, Michael Jordan took two years off to go and swing at pitches out of the strike zone with the Birmingham Barons. This happened when there was no work stoppage of any kind. The NBA was running as usual. Some would argue this didn't hurt Jordan's career, but helped it.
With the exception of the Lakers fans who would be afraid of Bryant hurting himself or feel as though Kobe would be "cheating" on the them with his new European squad, I can't imagine the move hurting Kobe's career in the long run. Assuming of course he would come back to the Association when the lockout ended.
However, the NBA may have more damages to repair if one of its best, most popular players fled to another country to play basketball.
We are not talking about Josh Childress or Von Wafer going to Europe to play. We are talking about Kobe Bryant.
If a player of Kobe's caliber went elsewhere to play, it could start a chain reaction of star players going to Europe. Who knows, the Heatles could possibly start planning a European concert tour.
Obviously, the European basketball scene would instantly become more popular with American fans. I'm not saying that the players wouldn't come back when the lockout ended, but the possibility of the NBA losing any luster to European leagues is another reason for owners to fear a lockout.
Ultimately, Kobe and/or any other star players going to play basketball in Europe would probably do more damage to the NBA itself rather than players' individual careers.