Kobe Bryant chose to shape his post-basketball life, instead of taking a shot at a Euroleague title.
Last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers' five-time NBA champion was offered a contract by European club FC Barcelona and a chance to extend his basketball career overseas, but Bryant politely turned the offer down, according to a report in Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Senior officials at the Catalan club ramped up their overtures toward Bryant after hearing him talk about ending his basketball career with Spanish big man Pau Gasol at the club that doubles as his favorite soccer team, according to the report.
In July, club officials said Bryant told them he "would love to finish my career playing for Barca with Pau Gasol," the former Lakers teammate with whom Bryant won NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.
Bryant spent his childhood in Europe and has often expressed his admiration for European players, but the 37-year-old resisted last year's Barcelona pursuit because, according to the report, he said he didn't know if he could count on a rebound in his health and doubted he could stay mostly healthy for the entire Euroleague season.
Mundo Deportivo said Bryant passed on an offer from Barcelona to compete exclusively for the club in the more high-profile Euroleague games, which pit up to 18 of the best basketball teams in Europe against one another every season.
Bryant then announced in November that he would retire after this NBA season and end his 20-year career with the Lakers. He is under contract with the Lakers as the NBA's highest-paid player this season, with a $25 million salary.
Bryant hasn't commented publicly about Mundo Deportivo's report, but he has in the past spoken to ESPN about his intentions to start his post-NBA career as a businessman.
In an exclusive 2014 interview with ESPN, Bryant revealed that he had formed a company called Kobe Inc. and was building a team around him to start new businesses and evaluate investing in others.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP's past three seasons have ended early because of injuries, and he played in only 41 games the previous two seasons. He has struggled significantly in the first 72 games of this season, with mostly young teammates on a rebuilding roster. Bryant is averaging 16.6 points a game and says he's dealing with pain and exhaustion virtually every day.
Bryant, who lived in Europe for eight years and is an avid soccer fan, has made multiple visits to the Catalan city to watch Barcelona in action.