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Shmontaine
09-30-2011, 10:57 AM
http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=ap-bryant-bologna


ROME (AP)—Italian club Virtus Bologna said it has reached a verbal agreement with Kobe Bryant(notes) for the Los Angeles Lakers star to play in Italy during the NBA lockout.

“We have reached an economic deal,” Virtus president Claudio Sabatini told a local radio station. “There’s still some things to arrange but at this point I’m very optimistic. I would say it’s 95 percent done.”

A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday that the sides have settled on a $3 million contract for the opening 40 days of the Italian league season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has still not been signed.

Bryant, who spent much of his childhood in Italy, was in the country for sponsor appearances over the past two days but was flying back to the U.S. for labor talks with the NBA on Friday.

Bryant is expected to get a work visa and return to Italy next week.

“Kobe should be in Bologna by Wednesday or Thursday with his visa in hand for medical visits and then we can deposit the contract with the league,” Sabatini said. “I want to make clear that right now there are still no signatures. We’ve got to write the contract, which will then be read over and over again.”

Virtus had been due to open the season Oct. 9 against Roma, but schedules now need to be reworked after Venezia was added to the league as a 17th team.

The deal, which would allow Bryant to return to the Lakers immediately if the lockout ends, should last about 10 games.

Sabatini wants to create a special schedule that assigns Bryant’s games to Italy’s biggest arenas.

“This is an important investment and a unique chance for the city of Bologna and all of Italian basketball,” Sabatini said. “I’m hoping everyone wants to collaborate.”

The 33-year-old Bryant has three years and $83.5 million left on his contract with the Lakers.

Between the ages of six and 13, Bryant lived in Italy when his father Joe Bryant played with Rieti, Reggio Calabria, Pistoia and Reggiana from 1984-91. The elder Bryant also once owned a small part of Olimpia Milano. He now coaches the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.

The younger Bryant still speaks Italian fairly well, and discussed his memories of his time in the country during an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport two days ago.

“Italy is my home. It’s where my dream of playing in the NBA started. This is where I learned the fundamentals, learned to shoot, to pass and to (move) without the ball,” Bryant told the Italian newspaper. “All things that when I came back to America the players my age didn’t know how to do because they were only thinking about jumping and dunking.”

Bryant added that playing in Italy “would be a dream for me.”

Bryant has been bothered in recent seasons by an arthritic joint in his right knee, which has required several minor operations. He sat out a majority of the Lakers’ practices last season and saw his scoring, shooting percentage and minutes decrease in his 15th NBA season.

Former USC guard Daniel Hackett, a dual citizen who plays for Pesaro in Italy, said he would give Bryant a hostile reception if he faced the former NBA MVP.

“The only way to stop a player that good is with a hard foul and he knows that,” Hackett said. “I’ve got five fouls to commit and they’re going to be the hardest five fouls I’ve ever committed.”

Hackett also criticized speculation that Bologna will ask opposing clubs hosting Bryant’s away games to chip in a portion of ticket sales to help pay Bryant’s salary.

“I really hope Kobe doesn’t lower himself to this level for economic and commercial motives,” Hackett said, according to the Gazzetta. “To me, it would be a big disappointment to see him here under these circumstances, and a loss of respect for a player who is too big to dirty his hands in this league.”

Bologna president Sabatini replied, “Fortunately not all Italian players think like Hackett.”

Turkish club Besiktas and at least one team in China had also expressed interest in Bryant, who has won five NBA championships and been an All-Star 13 times.

Bologna also recently approached Spurs swingman Manu Ginobili(notes), who played with the club before joining San Antonio in 2002. Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari(notes) rejoined his former Italian club Olimpia Milano last week.

The NBA season is scheduled to open Nov. 1 but owners and players have failed to agree on a new labor deal. The two sides are at odds over how to divide the league’s revenue, a salary cap structure and the length of guaranteed contracts.

Last week, NBA officials announced the postponement of training camp and the cancellation of 43 preseason games.

Virtus has won 15 Italian league titles but none since 2001, when it also won the Euroleague for the second time.

Bologna did not qualify for this season’s Euroleague, although the team has big ambitions after signing former Clemson point guard Terrell McIntyre, who led Siena to four consecutive Italian titles before transferring to Malaga in Spain before last season.

Having mingled with fans in Milan on Wednesday, Bryant also received a warm welcome in Rome on Thursday, where he was brought to the Campidoglio museum to be given a commemorative medal from the 1960 Rome Olympics.

justinnum1
09-30-2011, 10:58 AM
95% means nothing...unless its 100%............

JNA17
09-30-2011, 11:08 AM
Italy just got pimped out.

Andrew32
09-30-2011, 11:09 AM
Good for Kobe, he'll love playing in Italy keep his skills sharp and make some extra money.

And yes Italy got "pimped out" lol

JNA17
09-30-2011, 11:09 AM
95% means nothing...unless its 100%............

In other words, "if the union and the NBA don't work something out on Friday, Kobe is coming!."

justinnum1
09-30-2011, 11:45 AM
insidehoops
And, just like that, Kobe Bryant to Italy may have fallen apart: http://www.insidehoops.com/nba_rumors.shtml #NBA #Lakers

just like i said...

-Kobe24-TJ19-
09-30-2011, 12:06 PM
stern must be pissing his pants now, cuz kobe brings more money to the nba than any other player.

king4day
09-30-2011, 12:10 PM
Did he get his finger fixed? If not, this would have been a great chance to do it.

-Kobe24-TJ19-
09-30-2011, 12:46 PM
Did he get his finger fixed? If not, this would have been a great chance to do it.

his finger is unfixable

whitemamba33
09-30-2011, 12:50 PM
lol WOW..what the hell is Daniel Hackett's problem?

daleja424
09-30-2011, 12:57 PM
That'll get the Lakers FO on board real quick to make a deal... imagine if Kobe went over to Italy and got injured...

MrfadeawayJB
09-30-2011, 01:43 PM
$3 mil for 40 days....sweet!!! Hopefully this does speed up the CBA negotiations.

I would be ok with Kobe staying in italy forever if and only if italy keeps the cast of the jersey shore over there

Hawkeye15
09-30-2011, 02:07 PM
I would expect Mitch is in the labor meetings right now pushing for a deal.

It would be awesome if Kobe was only doing this to help push the owner's into making a deal haha

John Walls Era
09-30-2011, 02:56 PM
That'll get the Lakers FO on board real quick to make a deal... imagine if Kobe went over to Italy and got injured...

The Lakers want to get the deal done. Its Cavs and the small market teams that don't.

Shmontaine
09-30-2011, 03:09 PM
Kobe's got a 40 day deal on the table... the lockout will be longer than that, i don't think owners are that swayed by a 40 day deal...

gwrighter
09-30-2011, 03:10 PM
I would expect Mitch is in the labor meetings right now pushing for a deal.

It would be awesome if Kobe was only doing this to help push the owner's into making a deal haha

that's exactly what it is. he's not going to go, just more aggressive posturing.

MackShock
09-30-2011, 03:18 PM
im surprised this isnt getting many replies..

MackShock
09-30-2011, 03:19 PM
id expect the contract to be longer than 40 days and 10 games...3 mill for a 40 day rental...ridiculous..

but when you consider the tickets theyre going to sell..along with the rare italian league jersey theyre going to sell with bryants name on it...theyll likely make good money..although im not too sure how basketball crazy they are in italy

Mudvayne91
09-30-2011, 03:23 PM
The Lakers want to get the deal done. Its Cavs and the small market teams that don't.

It's cause the small market teams gets screwed.

Also, I thought the deal was "95% done" according to ESPN.

MackShock
09-30-2011, 05:29 PM
insidehoops

just like i said...

well yeah...i wouldnt wanna chip in for my opponents superstars salary...it was a stupid request to begin with..

its not as if kobe is having 2nd thoughts

Bruno
09-30-2011, 06:19 PM
Did he get his finger fixed? If not, this would have been a great chance to do it.

The finger is at the point of no return; he's alluded to the reality that it will never be fixed. Too much scar-tissue, I think the joint has lost it's structural integrity.

Bruno
09-30-2011, 06:20 PM
I would expect Mitch is in the labor meetings right now pushing for a deal.

It would be awesome if Kobe was only doing this to help push the owner's into making a deal haha

x2.