Kobe Bryant: "I haven't spoken to Besiktas in weeks"
The will-he-or-won't-he debate regarding the possibility Kobe Bryant would play overseas just took an interesting turn.
Bryant actually spoke about it.
But the Turkish basketball team, Besiktas, who signed the New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams and used every opportunity to name drop Bryant since then, won't like the news.
"I haven't spoken to Besiktas in weeks," Bryant said at a news conference Sunday in Washington, where he attended the World Football Challenge on Saturday and the Mia Hamm-Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge on Sunday.
So much for the whole idea that Bryant was scheduled to meet July 30 with Besiktas about the possibility. That whole notion that Seref Yalcin, the head of basketball operations for Besiktas, made when he claimed there's a "50-50" chance Bryant would sign with the club? Yup, also exaggerated. Try 0%, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge and Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski, or 2%, according to ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.
Yup, it's safe to say Bryant pairing with Turkey is highly unlikely. Unless, of course, you get optimistic, like Lloyd Christmas did in "Dumb and Dumber," when his chances of going out with Mary Swanson were "one in a million." It's unlikely, however, that Besiktas officials would respond in similar fashion, saying, "So you're telling me there's a chance."
Despite the likelihood Bryant won't play in Turkey, that doesn't mean he's ruling out playing overseas. He already appeared in a pair of exhibition games last week in the Philippines. Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, also has considered arranging a barnstorming tour in China for some of his clients at Landmark Sports Agency.
"I'm just waiting for my phone to ring. Here it is," Bryant told reporters. "I will play anywhere."
Should Bryant follow up on that pledge, he would have to consider a few variables. The top one is his health, because of his surgically repaired right knee, sprained left ankle and arthritic right index finger. Bryant underwent another procedure this off-season involving a derivation of platelet-rich plasma therapy on his right knee, according to The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner. Though Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes have seen Bryant this summer and boast about his improved health, it's still plausible that Bryant would benefit with even more rest.
But this much remains clear. Even though this hand-wringing over whether Bryant would actually play in Turkey resulted in absolutely nothing, the debate still kept his name in public conversation and arguably might help put more pressure on the league to reach a new collective-bargaining agreement soon.
"I've been touring. I get the Internet. I'm computer literate, so I can read on the Internet, and I read a lot of things and hear a lot of things," Bryant told reporters. "To be honest with you, that's the first time I hear those things. So, I'll let you decipher what that means, but a lot of that stuff is news to me."
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Sunday that he hasn't talked to the Turkish club team, Besiktas, in weeks. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 4, 2011