Bryant to Italy a potential game-changer?


Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011
Posted: 4:05 p.m.

By AggreySam BullsInsiderFollow@CSNBullsInsider
Early in the summer, an anticipated exodus of NBA talent overseas was all the rage. However, while numerous players have inked professional contracts to play on foreign soil during the NBA lockout -- some, such as the Nuggets' free-agent trio of Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler, without "out clauses" enabling them to return if and when the work stoppage ends -- outside of Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams, no true superstar has firmly committed to cross the waters.

That could be changing. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who has had flirtations with Williams' Turkish club Besiktas, was recently offered a one-year contract for 6.7 million to play for Italian league team Virtus Bologna, according to reports. Bryant spent much of his childhood in Italy while his father, former NBA player and current WNBA coach Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, was wrapping up his professional career.

No offense to Williams, one of the top floor generals in the game, but if a star of Bryant's magnitude -- a multiple champion, Hall of Famer and one of the best players of his generation, with international ties, to boot -- were to play overseas, NBA fans would pay attention. Additionally, it would demonstrate to the league's ownership that playing outside of the NBA during the lockout is indeed a viable option and could provide the union, of which Bryant has reportedly been a strong supporter (longtime Lakers backcourt mate Derek Fisher is the NBPA president), with some leverage in future negotiations.

What do you think about Bryant potentially going overseas? Will it have any impact on the current bargaining impasse down the road? Will you keep up with Bryant and other NBA players while they're overseas?

Aggrey Sam is's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

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