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Italian team owner claims Kobe Bryant agreed to play one game

December 6, 2011 | 10:36 am

Kobe Bryant

The NBA has all but officially ended its lockout and opened its facilities to prepare for the 2011-12 season.

But don't think that that's going to inhibit Claudio Sabatini, owner of the Italian team Virtus Bologna, to continually rant about nearing a deal with Kobe Bryant. He says outlandish things, such as telling Corriere dello Sport that Bryant agreed to play for one game this week worth $4 million. We print his outlandish statements just because it gives us another chance to make fun of him.

Every bold proclamation comes with a little fine print. "We had the agreement," Sabatini maintained this week, "there was just a little detail left." Of course, there was always something little that derailed the process. Sabatini had claimed that he and Bryant's representatives reached a $3-million deal to play in 10 games, only to see that derail because it would require the league to alter its schedule. Sabatini boldly announced Bryant agreed to play in a game for either $1 million or $2 million, a problem considering he couldn't nail down the specific price and both Bryant and his representatives remained silent about it. Sabatini then wrote an open letter to President Obama asking him for a bailout, but unlike the banks and auto industry, Obama didn't listen.

One would think this is the last time Sabatini will act as if he's near an agreement with Bryant. And don't think the NBA season will be an obstacle. After all, Sabatini will just see it as "one little thing" he needs to iron out with Bryant before agreeing to a deal. 


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— Mark Medina

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Kobe Bryant greets a fan in Rome during a visit this summer. Credit: Riccardo De Luca / Associated Press