As soon as Hakim Warrick said he has "a few all-star surprises" up his sleeve for the Team Philly vs. Team Melo game, rumors swirled about Lakers star Kobe Bryant potentially joining his hometown team. After speaking with Kobe's marketing manager Jerry Foyer this afternoon, however, I can tell you that it's safe to count Kobe out of the September 25th event at the Palestra.
Foyer said Bryant has a European tour scheduled for that week and he will thus be out of the country until the end of September -- which explains the "other obligations" Warrick mentioned to philly.com. The tour is scheduled to take him through Turkey, Greece and Italy, where Kobe will run youth basketball clinics.
According to Foyer, Bryant, a Lower Merion High School (Pa.) graduate, has not even been contacted about participating in the Battle for I95. "He actually brought it up today," Foyer said, but the two "didn't go into depth" about the possibility of playing because of the prior commitment.
It's an unfortunate scheduling conflict, because Bryant's participation would have taken the exhibition to an even higher level (if that's possible). As is, the star power is heavily weighted toward Team Melo, with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul already in the fold. Recently committed Chester native Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings) will at least give the Philly fans a hometown hero to root for, but Kobe playing at the Palestra would have been a sight to behold and would have certainly helped his shaky relationship with fans in this city.
If anything, though, Kobe's packed schedule shows how improbable this turn of events truly is -- the game's organizers were able to bring international superstars onto our campus. Pretty amazing.
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