Italian team halts pursuit of Kobe Bryant
Pursuing Kobe Bryant has been a one-sided affair for the Italian basketball team Virtus Bologna.
The owner, Claudio Sabatini, bragged to the press every chance he got that the deal was 95% done, that he'd create a special Kobe Night or even that he'd ask President Obama for help. Meanwhile, Bryant only gave a clichéd, noncommittal endorsement on his Nike trip to Italy that playing there would be a "dream come true," while his agent, Rob Pelinka, maintained silence throughout the negotiation process. So it isn't exactly surprising that Bryant returning to his childhood roots in Italy didn't work out. It's instead surprising that Sabatini has thrown in the towel, or at least continued finding creative ways to keep his pursuit of Bryant in the headlines.
But as reported by the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, "the last requests made by (agent) Rob Pelinka to Virtus Bologna to have the chance to sign Kobe Bryant for some exhibition games are too high for Claudio Sabatini, who decided to give up on the negotiations."
Those reading the tea leaves might see this as a sign that the NBA owners and players union might broker a deal as they meet Tuesday with federal mediator George Cohen. But it's also a sign that amid Bryant's desire to maximize his health, his overseas ventures never really seemed that realistic.
Don't consider Sabatini as giving up just yet. He's simply taking a break. The team's website indicates it will try to convince Bryant again in time for him to play in mid-November. Yeah, like that will happen.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo credit: Mark D. Smith / US Presswire / Feb. 27, 2011