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Odds Say Kobe Bryant is a Longshot to Play in the BIG3

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Updated Apr 19, 2020 · 9:30 PM PDT

Kobe Bryant
Would Kobe Bryant come out of retirement to play in the BIG3 Basketball League? Photo by Christopher Johnson (flickr) CC License)
  • Is Kobe Bryant playing in the BIG3 League next year?
  • Bryant’s fans are split on how they feel about the news
  • What circumstances could compel him to end his retirement?

You know what we’ve missed in our lives, basketball die-hards? Kobe Bean Bryant.

So excuse the basketball world getting all shook last week when this news broke, following a BIG3 conference call with reporters.

Nothing gets Kobe stans and haters animated quite like legacy-impacting stories of Bryant, especially one of this magnitude.




And as quickly as you can say “I’d put my money on that,” we have some odds we need to dissect:

Will Kobe Bryant Play in the 2019 BIG3 Season?

Yes No
+500 -800

As the “will he or won’t he” conversation took off, BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz gingerly walked back his comments from guaranteed to guaranteed … that I heard from a good source.

The reality is this is not happening. I would put everything I own on that, especially after this ESPN story, with a carved-in-stone statement from Bryant himself when asked about his hoops career:  “There is about a zero percent chance that I come back and play. Nothing. Done. That’s it.”

Also, why toil in this hoops netherworld when you could roll with LA and LeBron for a shot at NBA title no. 6?

But let’s dabble in the fantasy. What could compel one of the greatest basketball players ever (by any metric) to lace them up again?

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Kobe as BIG3 Owner/Commissioner

Bryant would be – with no disrespect to Allen Iverson – the most recognizable and famous NBA face by far to be associated with the product. Think David Beckham to LA Galaxy-level mega-exposure.

Bryant would be – with no disrespect to Allen Iverson – the most recognizable and famous NBA face by far to be associated with the BIG3.

His involvement in something this young and raw would likely involve the current ownership group offering some stake in the venture to Bryant and his team – with the subtle-but-not-so-subtle eventual takeover. Bryant committing for a couple of seasons will increase sponsorship opportunities and build the brand.

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Once he takes over, who knows what this could be – with his connections, perhaps the ex-players are in a secondary “golden” division (who doesn’t love a post-pro paycheck?), while the main attraction turns into a legit NBA summer league for the current crop to get their work in. Wouldn’t that be dope?

Kobe Would Destroy the Competition

Look at that last tweet. He’s NBA royalty. The hope is that eventually, the dude will crave the competition, and what better way to do old-man basketball than to unleash it against your former peers, and in the half court?

“I hope he would, but I know he ain’t going to do nothing like that.”

– Allen Iverson on Kobe Bryant playing in BIG3, February 2017

You need to be in shape, but you don’t need prodigious athleticism. Bryant won’t even need to have an agile first step. All he needs is a screen to get to the low block, and put in work.

BIG3 games are first to 50 – how wild would it be to bet the over/under of Bryant’s point total at say, 39.5? Now this is must-see TV.

This year’s championship team was led by eventual MVP Corey Maggette, Big Baby Davis, and Cuttino Mobley.

To quote Johnny Manziel, Kobe would “wreck this league.”

Kobe Bryant Career Achievements

Category Number All-Time Rank
First-Team All-NBA Selections 11 T-1st
NBA All-Defensive Team Selections 12 2nd
NBA All-Star Team Selections 17 T-2nd
NBA Championships won 5 T-14th

Kobe is a Basketball Lifer

Almost any NBA player will tell you it’s time to hang them up when the thought of an 82-game schedule wears on the mind. It’s a mental and physical battle. But BIG3? This is a ten-city tour, and Bryant would be putting in a solid two-hour run that he might do once a week anyways. The payoff, however, is to play with the intensity of competing for a championship.

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Watch Mobley’s game-winner in the final and you’re reminded that championships at any level mean something.

Mix that with the business opportunity this presents to Kobe the businessman (I mean, hell, it’s a great concept: how are there no other legit basketball leagues around when we’re crazy for basketball?) and you could have something special.

Fun run. But now, back to reality.

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