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Kobe Bryant says it's 'very possible' he might play in Italy

With an offer on the table, Bryant says playing in Italy during NBA lockout 'would be a dream.' He spent part of his youth there while his father, Joe Bryant, played in the Italian pro league.

September 28, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Kobe Bryant gestures while attending a promotional event in Milan on Wednesday. The Lakers star says he's looking into the possibility of playing for an Italian team.
Kobe Bryant gestures while attending a promotional event in Milan on Wednesday.… (Luca Bruno / Associated…)

Arrivederci, Kobe?

Kobe Bryant took another step toward Italy while in Milan, if that's possible, saying it was "very possible" he would play in the Italian pro league during the NBA lockout.

"It would be a dream for me," Bryant told the Gazzetta dello Sport while making a promotional appearance Wednesday for Nike. "There's an opportunity that we've been discussing over the last few days. It's very possible, and that's good news for me."

Bryant would earn $2.5 million for 10 games with Virtus Bologna from Oct. 9 to Nov. 16, according to the Associated Press. It's less than the $6.7 million he was originally offered for an entire season.

Bryant spent much of his youth in Italy while his father, Joe, played pro basketball there for eight years. He has always looked back on those days in high regard, and fans thought highly of his father.

"They would tell me he was Magic [Johnson] before Magic," Bryant told The Times in 2006.

Bryant, 33, has three years and $83.5 million left on his Lakers contract. His nonbinding Italian contract would allow him to return to the Lakers immediately if the lockout ended.

"Italy is my home," Bryant said Wednesday. "It's where my dream of playing in the NBA started. This is where I learned the fundamentals, learned to shoot, to pass and to [move] without the ball … all things that when I came back to America, the players my age didn't know how to do because they were only thinking about jumping and dunking."

The NBA lockout is about to enter its fourth month. The league has already delayed the start of training camp and canceled 43 exhibition games.

Further cancellations might be announced soon if the standoff between players and owners doesn't end this weekend.

Virtus Bologna has been a non-factor for almost a decade, with its last Italian league title coming in 2001.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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