Talks have been rapidly progressing between Kobe Bryant and Italian club Virtus Bologna. The latest suggests that Kobe will sign a 10-game contract worth $3 million. Those 10 games would take place over a 40-day span.
But just who is Virtus Bologna?
Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna was founded in 1871 and is located in Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna, which is located in northern Italy.
The team has won 15 Championships in the Italian League’s top division: Lega Basket Serie A. Those 15 championships are second only to Olimpia Milano, who has won 25 championships. The last championship for Bologna came in 2001.
Virtus is the current sponsor of the Bologna team, but that changes every few years. Past names have included Canadian Solar (2009-10) and VidiVici (2005-07).
Just imagine this happening in the NBA. We would have teams such as Staples Los Angeles and Amway Orlando.
Bologna plays in an 11,000 seat arena called Futurshow Station.
Their head coach is Alessandro Finelli, who will be entering his first season with the team.
The team has already signed shooting guard Chris Douglas-Roberts from the Milwaukee Bucks to play during the lockout. The club is also after San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili.
You might be wondering why this will be good for Kobe. Many fans have echoed that Kobe should focus on the Lakers and on the NBA. However, this return to Italy will be huge for Kobe.
First off, I’ll ask you this. How much of the above facts did you know about Virtus Bologna? Had you heard of Virtus Bologna before?
I know that I had not.
Kobe will better the relationship between the NBA and Lega Basket of Italy. The NBA was founded 26 years after the start of professional basketball in Italy. However, due to the popularity in America, the league has surpassed any other forms of competitions to become the most watched basketball league in the world, featuring the very best players.
Year in and year out for the past 14 seasons Laker fans have been blessed with the privilege of having Kobe at our disposal. International fans have taken note. Italian basketball fans know that Kobe spent seven years in Italy as a youngster while his father played professional ball.
His popularity extends even further than just that as evidenced by jersey sales. Bryant’s jersey had ranked as the best selling for several years before dropping to second behind Miami’s LeBron James this past season. Nobody received more votes than the 2.38 million votes Kobe received for the 2011 All-Star Game.
Virtus has requested that their schedule be altered so that there are five home games and five away games for Kobe to be showcased in. The five away games would be played in Italy’s biggest arenas.
Notable games are against Roma at home on Sunday, which is the season opener. The team would then play at Olimpia Milano, which signed Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari. Later on, Bologna would play at Montegranaro, who is trying to sign Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani.
Kobe has already drawn a “threat” from former St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, Ca) and USC Trojan Daniel Hackett, who holds dual citizenship between Italy and the United States. Hackett has promised to deliver the five hardest fouls that he will ever have committed because it is the only way to stop a player of Kobe’s caliber.
That won’t stop Kobe though, who will realize a dream of his by playing in Italy. Comments like these will only challenge Kobe to bring it and further demonstrate why he is the greatest player in the World.
Kobe also wins by further extending the Nike brand, which will have Italian fans flocking to kiosks and stores to fully don Kobe Bryant shoes, jerseys, etc.
The negotiations are nearly complete, but the real talking is about to begin. The season begins on Sunday. Will Kobe be signed and ready to play?