While Kobe Bryant reportedly has refused any offer from Italian club Virtus Bologna that does not entail him (theoretically) playing with the team for the entire 2011-12 season, Bologna management appears to be clearing a path to make such a signing possible.
The big news in this direction early this week is twofold: Firstly, Virtus club president Claudio Sabatini has confirmed that a sponsorship deal to pay a multi-million euro salary – an arrangement which the sanctioned Beşiktaş worked in order to pay Deron Williams’ Continent-high contract – to the Los Angeles Laker is in place. “We have a sponsor supporting us,” stated Sabatini on Sunday. “It’s an Italian company that’s known all over the world.” (Hmmm, BiE doesn’t suppose that’s Armani…)
Of course, a bit of a snag hits here, as the sponsorship deal may have been made in the framework of Sabatini’s original offer, which began at $600,000 for a single game and extended to $3 million for the season; ESPN later reported that a $6.7 million pitch (just under €5 million by today’s exchange rate) had been made to Kobe, but at least one website today claims that Bryant has shot back with a call for *$15 million* to play the season in Bologna.
Perhaps more compellingly – or perhaps merely representing an investment – is the rumor that Kobe is reportedly seeking to buy a house in Montecalvo, leading to the natural speculation that he could well be moving there soon.
Kobe in Italy? Whoa. The only problem for most basketball fans, of course, is the fact that Bologna will not be playing in any pan-European competitions in 2011-12 (not even the FIBA Eurochallenge!) and thus will be difficult to find on all but the biggest network-grabbing satellite dishes.
Either way for his sake, let’s hope Kobe finds house-hunting in Montecalvo a tad easier than it reportedly is in Tuscany.