Kobe Bryant could have been featured in the basketball team that carries the same flag as Lionel Messi’s club. Bryant was offered by his favorite soccer team, Barcelona, to play in the Euroleague, but he turned down the opportunity to extend his career with the Spanish Giants over health concerns.
Bryant is a huge fan of Barcelona’s soccer team and an admirer of Lionel Messi, according to the SB Nation. And his favorite Barcelona pitched an offer to Kobe last summer, according to the Spanish Sports Daily Mundo Deportivo. Bryant is set to retire after a glittering 20 year NBA career, which includes 5 title wins.
Bryant considered the offer of featuring with his former Lakers’ team-mate Pau Gasol for the Catalans initially. The Barcelona officials were hopeful that Bryant would sign the deal but later, the legendary Lakers’ star turned down the offer due to concerns over his fitness. He was not confident that his body would hold up for an entire season in Europe. Bryant was also concerned that he may not live up to the high expectations in Barcelona. The Euroleague pits up to 18 best teams of the continent.
Bryant finally confirmed his retirement in November last year. He is the highest paid player of the NBA this season, with an annual salary of $25 million.
Kobe grew up in Italy and has been a fan of soccer since his childhood. His father played professional basketball there, and Bryant can speak Italian and Spanish.
“I am actually [a huge fan] of soccer. I grew up in Italy. From the age from six to 14 I played soccer every day. It is actually my favorite sport,” he said during the World Cup in 2014. Bryant declined to comment publicly on the Mundo Deportivo report.