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BIG3 Co-Founder Jeff Kwatinetz Still Says Kobe Bryant Will Join Despite Denial

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2018

Former Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant watches from the stands during the first half in the semifinals of the women's NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament game between Connecticut and Notre Dame, Friday, March 30, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz continues to express optimism Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant will join the three-on-three basketball league for its 2019 season despite denials from the longtime NBA superstar's camp.

Kwatinetz spoke with TMZ Sports about the situation Thursday.

"There's no mix-up," he said. "Someone who's a good source, who I'm not gonna reveal, says he's gonna play."

Brandon Robinson of Scoop B. Radio noted the BIG3 co-founder originally mentioned the possibility of Bryant, 40, joining the league during a conference call Tuesday.

Molly Carter, the chief marketing officer of Kobe Inc., responded to the comments by telling Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press the five-time NBA champion "definitely" isn't planning to play next season.

Vanessa Bryant, the longtime Lakers star's wife, also shot down the idea in an Instagram reply (via TMZ Sports).

"Kobe will not be coming out of retirement to play again," she wrote. "He doesn’t want to play again and frankly we really enjoy spending time together as a family without the crazy game schedule interfering with birthdays, holidays and special events."

Kwatinetz is still leaving the door open for the league's most high-profile arrival to date, though.

"Every year we have guys who say they're not gonna play who end up playing," he told TMZ. "I don't know that he's not coming. I'll know in February. I think that's the truth."

Although Bryant would provide a massive boost in fan interest if he signed, it would be a shock if he takes part in the BIG3 in 2019 or beyond.

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