After months of speculation about whether or not Lakers guard Kobe Bryant would play overseas during the NBA lockout, a decision has finally been made. According to the Associated Press, Virtus Bologna and Bryant have verbally agreed to a contract that will pay the star guard $3 million over a span of the first 40 games of the Italian League season. In an interview with a Roman radio station, team president Claudio Sabatini all but confirmed the signing, saying, “There’s still some things to arrange but at this point I’m very optimistic. I would say it’s 95 percent done.”
As we reported earlier this week, Bryant was quoted as saying that it would be “very possible” that he would play for Bologna. Bryant spent much of his childhood in Italy while his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played there professionally. Bryant has even been quoted as saying that Italy is “my home.”
There has been much debate as to whether or not Kobe Bryant should compete overseas during the lockout. Supporters of his decision will suggest that Bryant needs to keep active in some way during the elongated off-season and that playing professionally overseas will keep his body in basketball shape and keep the competitive juices flowing. Detractors will point to Bryant’s age and health issues over recent seasons and feel he’d be better suited to take as much time off as possible and use the lockout as extra time to rest before having to compete in the NBA again. Whatever your stance on the development is, theres no doubt that the offseason just got a little more interesting for Laker fans.