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Italian team hopes NBA lockout will help it land Kobe Bryant

October 11, 2011 | 11:49 am

The Lakers' Kobe BryantWhen the public stopped listening to NBA lockout updates, they heard another thing that made their mind numb and ears pop.

Turkish, Chinese and Italian teams all were optimistic this off-season that Kobe Bryant would join their squad. Don't expect that to stop anytime soon. With the NBA canceling the first two weeks of the regular season, Virtus Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini told reporters that the league's work stoppage could help the team secure Bryant. 

"We are delighted that they have not yet reached an agreement," Sabatini said. "Stern's dissatisfaction was the source of great joy for us."

Try telling that to affected team, arena and concession employees. Or to the many frustrated NBA fans. Or to anyone else with a conscious.

From a purely practical standpoint, however, Sabatini may have a point, though it lacks perspective. It also doesn't reveal if Bryant would actually accept a $3.3-million deal to appear in 10 games or play on a pay-per-game basis.

After all, Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports, hasn't returned multiple phone calls about possible overseas ventures. The Italian league initially resisted Virtus Bologna's plea to alter its schedule to accomodate Bryant's proposed 10-game, 40-day contract. And, of course, many other teams have pursued Bryant, only to be rejected like a desperate groupie. 

But that's hardly going to prevent Sabatini from remaining silent about his team's chances.


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-- Mark Medina

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Photo credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times