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Italy Olympic chief doubtful over Kobe Bryant deal

October 7, 2011 |  9:23 am

Kobe Bryant

With all the twists and turns during negotiations, it appeared unlikely Kobe Bryant would actually play in Italy.

Put Italian Olympic Committee President Gianni Petrucci among the skeptics. Petrucci doubts Virtus Bologna of the Italian League can muster up the resources to sign Bryant to a deal and that it would serve as nothing more than a publicity stunt. But again, that may have been the whole point. Owner Claudio Sabatini proclaimed last week the "deal is done at 95%" even though the team needed to iron out visa, insurance and scheduling issues. 

"I respect Sabatini but I don't believe that Italian basketball will be enriched by the presence of a phenomenon," Petrucci told SkySport 24. "I don't want to create any more problems for basketball, they already have enough. I'm not saying I'm against it [the move for Bryant] but you understand my point of view. Right now sporting federations need certain rules, they need tranquillity, everyone must have limits."

The club met resistance from the Italian league in rescheduling games so that Bryant could appear in 10 contests in 40 days against marquee opponents. Both Virtus Bologna and Bryant's representatives then released joint statements on Monday saying both are working "very intensely" to finalize a deal. Then again, it was very easy to mix fiction with substance. Consider that the discussions coinciding with the NBA labor meetings that could largely determine whether the 2011-2012 season starts on time. Also consider that the Turkish basketball team, Besiktas, courted Bryant the same way earlier this off-season, with public proclamations of a done deal only to follow with logistical setbacks. 

So with that, it appears the the publicity wave surrounding  Bryant's possible return to his childhood roots has finally washed up. 


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--Mark Medina

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