Kobe Bryant: No Besiktas talk in 'weeks'
"I haven't spoken to Besiktas in weeks," Bryant said at a news conference Sunday in Washington, where he spent the weekend attending the World Football Challenge on Saturday and the Mia Hamm-Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge on Sunday. Both events were presented by Turkish Airlines, for which Bryant serves as a pitchman.
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According to an NBA.com report, a source involved in the negotiations between the 13-time All-Star and the Turkish club placed the chance of Bryant playing there as of Sunday at "zero percent." That would contradict a statement made earlier in the week by Seref Yalcin, the head of basketball operations for Besiktas, who said there was a "50 percent" chance that Bryant would come to Turkey, according to a Reuters report.
Yalcin also said in the report that Bryant and Besiktas officials were set to meet on July 30th, but Bryant's statement would appear to indicate that meeting did not occur.
Bryant, who grew up in Italy, said he hasn't signed with any other team, but indicated he'd like to play overseas if the NBA lockout continues.
"I'm just waiting for my phone to ring. Here it is," said Bryant, who set his phone on the table at his press conference in Washington D.C., on Sunday. "I will play anywhere."
"You probably know more about that than I do," Bryant said. "... 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. 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."
Earlier Sunday, Bryant played in the Celebrity Soccer Challenge, which raises money and awareness for bone-marrow donations, at Kastles Stadium in Washington.
Fewer than six minutes into the match, Bryant, playing for "F.C. Mia," exclaimed, "This is tiring. I need a timeout." When that timeout came a couple minutes later, Bryant raised his arms victoriously to celebrate the stoppage and shouted, "Yes!"
Bryant, who played in sunglasses and with his gray shorts hanging below the blue shorts of his F.C. Barcelona kit, mostly defended in the first half. He often worked his way to the offensive side, earning cheers from the crowd with his better-than-to-be-expected ball control.
In the second half, Bryant made his mark. Unfortunately for him, that impact began with an own goal that drew an exaggerated shrug from the Lakers star. But Bryant followed it shortly with a goal for his team, and of course, he celebrated with his signature raised fist.
Then, with the match in sudden-death overtime, Bryant's play in goal helped lift F.C. Mia to victory.
Afterward, Bryant was asked about signing with F.C. Barcelona.
"Not if they want to win another championship," said Bryant, who attended F.C. Barcelona's exhibition loss to Manchester United on Saturday night.
Dan Feldman is a special contributor to ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from Dave McMenamin, who covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com, was used in this report.