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Kobe Bryant and Italy's Virtus Bologna work to iron out deal

October 3, 2011 |  9:03 am

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant's representatives and Virtus Bologna say they are working hard to reach a deal to allow the Lakers' star to play in Italy in the event of an NBA lockout. A deal hinges on whether other the team's Italian rivals will agree to alter their schedule.

"Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna and the management of Mr. Bryant are working very intensely to try and create this important deal," the parties said in a statement Monday. "Reaching such a complex deal requires both sides' maximum attention for every little detail. Everyone wants a positive outcome to the deal, the goal of which is Kobe Bryant's presence in Italy, economic interests for the 17 clubs in Serie A and more attention for all of Italian basketball."

On Friday, Virtus Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini told Sportando the "deal is done at 95%." Such an agreement is expected to entail paying Bryant $3 million to appear in 10 games over 40 days. The remaining 5%: persuading the Italian basketball league to allow Virtus Bologna to change its schedule to ensure Bryant would play against the league's top teams in marquee arenas. 

ESPN the Magazine's Ric Bucher and Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowksi report that Bryant is pushing for a deal that would allow other Italian teams to enjoy the financial benefits of his presence. 

The Italian league released its schedule Monday, subject to change should Bryant sign with Bologna. But time is running short. Bologna opens its season Sunday against Roma. 

"I hope that very shortly we'll have a deal," Sabatini told the ANSA news agency. "I want to thank Kobe, who demonstrated again overnight that he wants to return to Italy."


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-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Kobe Bryant in China in July. Credit: Joe Tan / Reuters