Kobe Bryant's retirement tour is drawing to a close. The Black Mamba has just under two weeks left in his precious purple and gold, but it feels like Bryant's retirement has been going on forever.
A season-long swan song will give off that impression, but the game will still be sad to see Kobe go. The raptures of applause the 37-year-old has enjoyed on the road this season is a testament to the respect the five-time NBA champion has garnered down the years, but it seems his admirers extend beyond the NBA.
Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, via Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin, has reported that FC Barcelona's basketball team offered Bryant a chance to extend his career in Europe.
Article continues below
According to Helin, the report said Barcelona's offer "was for Kobe to play only in Barcelona’s Euroleague games, which is the equivalent of the Champions League in soccer where the top teams from each country’s club leagues face off against each other."
Their ambition to wheel out Kobe for the very top encounters is, essentially, like signing a player in the NBA and only utilising them in the playoffs. Who knows, the 2008 MVP might have considered a lucrative offer with minimal game time to add a European leg to his retirement tour.
Article continues below
However, Helin has reported that Bryant turned down the opportunity and even if he was interested, it doesn't seem like Kobe's body will even entertain that notion right now.
It's obvious the Los Angeles Lakers legend is trying desperately to feature in as many of his final games as possible, but that will and desire restricted him to just over eight minutes of action against the Miami Heat last time out where he only recorded two points.
After the 18-time All-Star exited the action against the Heat - where the Lakers pulled off a surprise 102-100 win - he could be seen wrapped up with multiple ice packs seemingly covering almost every available limb.
Although a humorous image at first glance, this is what it has come to for Kobe to be able to have a chance at adhering to the ferocious and tiresome NBA schedule.
Mike Trudell of the team's website reported that Kobe said: “there was no hope tonight," when asked about his eight minutes of action against Miami.
There are plenty of reasons why Kobe would be a wanted man in Spain. He speaks fluent Italian - where he lived for seven years as a child - and showed in an interview back in 2014 that he has a grasp of the Spanish language, too.
Most of all, though, Kobe is an international superstar. For all of Stephen Curry's recent success and LeBron James' before him, Bryant is still arguably the most recognisable, household name in basketball of the last decade, perhaps beyond.
Still, after spending 20 years with the Lakers, it's hard to imagine he'd like to end his career any other way than at the Staples Center.