Kobe may still play in Italy overseas during the lockout, but it'll be shorter than expected.
Claudio Sabatini, the owner of Italian League team Virtus Bologna, is making a final ploy to get the Lakers' superstar to play at least one game for his team while the NBA continues its lockout.
Not too long ago, Bryant's reps and Virtus Bologna, getting the feeling the lockout would last pretty long, were working intensely to sign Bryant to a 10-game contract worth more than $3 million after scheduling problems hampered a quick deal.
Now, both scheduling issues and television rights have forced Claudio Sabatini to offer Bryant between $1 million and $2 million to play in one exhibition game, a Tribute to Kobe sometime in October in Bologna, according to multiple media reports in Italy.
A team spokesman told ESPNdeportesLosAngeles.com that negotiations between the team and Bryant's representatives would take place Thursday by conference call.
Negotiations with Mr. Kobe Bryant have been very difficult, said Vicenzo Di Schiavia, the team's communications manager. We will not make any comment for now.
Sabatini has secured sponsorship in Italy and says he hopes to make up the rest of the money to put on the game by offering TV rights to American stations.
The team has decided on an exhibition in order to get around the scheduling problems and TV rights issues in Italy.
I had to make this decision because it was the only way to be able to show 'The Tribute to Kobe' to the whole world, Sabatini said last week, according to il Resto del Carlino. If we had done a league game, we would have had problems trying to show it also in Italy.
La Reppublica, a publication based in Bologna, reported on its website that Bryant had been offered $2.3 million to play in the exhibition in the next two weeks.
Bryant's compensation would be paid by the team's sponsors. But Bryant's current endorsements deals might not allow him to fulfill those sponsorship deals, according to La Reppublica.
The two possible exhibition dates mentioned in the reports are Oct. 19 or Oct. 26, but no opponent has been named yet.
Bryant lived in Italy during his childhood while his father, Joe Bryant, played in the Italian League. Joe Bryant is currently the coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.
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