As the NBA slides closer to the cancellation of regular-season games amid a labor lockout, reports continue to swirl around Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant’s rumored interest in playing for a professional Italian basketball team.
Originally, it was heavily suggested that Bryant would sign a lucrative short-term deal with European power Virtus Bologna. But according to SkySport24, Olympic committee president Gianni Petrucci waved off Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini’s claim that the deal was “95 percent” close to being done, as nothing more than a sideshow.
“I respect Sabatini but I don’t believe that Italian basketball will be enriched by the presence of a phenomenon,” Petrucci said. “I don’t want to create any more problems for basketball, they already have enough. I’m not saying I’m against it but you understand my point of view. Right now sporting federations need certain rules, they need tranquility everyone must have limits.”
Bryant, who spent time in Italy as a youth, is the biggest name so far to consider playing overseas in the midst of a nasty labor disagreement. Landing Bryant would be a major coup for international basketball and perhaps would be the big fish needed to net other NBA stars. According to CBS News, in spite of a Sabatini statement last week that his club had reached a tentative deal with Bryant and his agent, Rob Pelinka, for a 10-game contract worth more than $3 million, no agreement has been officially confirmed.