While earlier reports indicated Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant could be close to signing a deal with Virtus Bologna of Italy, a potential scheduling conflict could hold up these negotiations. Here is the story on the newest roadblock in the Kobe-to-Italy saga:
The Italian pro league might lose a chance at Kobe Bryant because some of its teams won't rearrange the schedule to create more games at the start of the season for Bryant's possible new team, Virtus Bologna.
Friday marked a day of boasting and then backtracking for the Italian club, which declared with near certainty that it locked up Bryant with a 10-game, $3.2-million deal only to post an ominous, defensive statement on its website later in the day.
"With great surprise, Virtus Basketball notes that, due to the negative view of some clubs, it's not possible to go forward with the 10-game agreement, therefore putting in serious doubt the economic deal behind the plan to bring Kobe Bryant to Italy," the statement said.
As for why some teams may be opposed to facing Kobe Bryant and his new team? Other than the chances of being blown out in every game, some players are concern about the inevitable hard fouls Bryant would receive.
Daniel Hackett, a former USC guard who plays for Pesaro in Italy, said he would physically challenge the 13-time All-Star.
"The only way to stop a player that good is with a hard foul, and he knows that," Hackett said. "I've got five fouls to commit, and they're going to be the hardest five fouls I've ever committed."
Hackett also criticized Bryant's motives for signing the deal amid speculation that Bryant's new team would ask for proceeds from ticket sales when it played road games.
"I really hope Kobe doesn't lower himself to this level for economic and commercial motives," Hackett told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "To me, it would be a big disappointment to see him here under these circumstances and a loss of respect for a player who is too big to dirty his hands in this league."
While it's tough to imagine Kobe Bryant taking Daniel Hackett's views to heart, the Italian guard does bring up a few good points.
For one, the absolute last thing Lakers fans want if for Bryant to be injured while playing oversees. If opposing players are indeed committing hard fouls on the all-star -- and let's be honest, they probably will be in each game he plays -- the chances of injury would be pretty high.
Secondly, it would be a pretty unfair advantage for the rest of the teams in the league. Bring Bryant to Virtus Bologna would cost a lot of money for just ten games and they would be nearly unstoppable with their newest star on the court. Imagine having a sales job that you've done well for years, only be told your firm or company would be bringing over one of the best salesmen in the country for a month or two, someone you would be in direct competition with.
How would you feel about it? It's easy to understand Hackett's frustrations.
This all being said, it appears that a deal will eventually be worked out. This is an interesting potential roadblock, though, and is definitely something to keep an eye on.