“The Kobe Cup”
That’s Kobe Bryant’s latest plans for Italy — an exhibition tour with some kind of cup to play for. Those plans of him playing even one game for Virtus Bologna are toast, according to Sportando, but his plans to return to Italy and play some games will not die. More accurately, Virtus owner Claudio Sabatini was jonesing for another public relations fix, so here we are.
As per La Gazzetta dello Sport, Claudio Sabatini and Rob Pelinka are still working silently to bring Kobe Bryant to Italy during the NBA lockout. The last idea is to organize three exhibition tournaments in Bologna, Roma and Milano with three teams for any stage. All the games would last 24 minutes with two quarters by 12′. Sabatini wants to involve also a foreign team because his idea is to sell the TV rights also abroad. The winner of the mini-tournament will lift the prestigious Kobe Cup. The three exhibition games will be organized, if the deal is going to be finalized, from the end of October till the beginning of November.
“The prestigious Kobe Cup?” Shouldn’t we let the cup actually get made and the games scheduled first?
This has about as much a chance of happening as “Real Steel” does of winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Sorry Hugh Jackman.
But an exhibition tour of some kind makes a lot more sense than Kobe playing for a team overseas. If the labor talks do fall apart in the next couple weeks, talks of overseas tours could pick up steam.
Claudio Sabatini, the owner of Italian league club Virtus Bologna, is both a media whore and desperate. He has tried desperately to land Kobe Bryant and gone public with it to get attention every step of the way.
Now, with a $2 million offer for one game out there, Sabatini found a way to come off as even more desperate.
He posted this letter on the team Web site:
Dear Mr. President,
We have a dream: to see Kobe Bryant playing for our Team Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna, the Italian town well known in the world as basket City.
According to your wishes we hope that the NBA lockout will shortly stop but in the meanwhile let us have the chance to see at least for one game the great Kobe Bryant playing with our black and white jersey and be part of our history.
Politically, now may be a bad time to encourage the president to send American workers and jobs overseas. Just sayin’. Plus, Obama just wants the lockout to end like the rest of us.
You get the feeling that if Sabatini thought the negotiations had any shot he wouldn’t be making an a** of himself publicly, but since he has no shot why not?
I’ll believe it when I see him walk on the court in another uniform, but the Kobe Bryant to Italy rumors remain the cockroach of rumors and will not go away.
But if it were to happen, this new one-game “Kobe night” rumor makes more sense.
That is the latest report out of Italy via Sportando.
Kobe Bryant, as reported by Il Resto del Carlino, is close to accepting the single game proposal made by Claudio Sabatini, owner of Virtus Bologna. The two parts are negotiating intensively in the last hour and a solution for the saga seems close to end. Kobe Bryant would land in Italy for four days and play one game in the ‘Kobe Night’. According to Sabatini there are already sponsors and networks ready to cover the event.
Sabatini offered to Bryant $2M for the single game.
I can get why Kobe does this — and it’s not just the cash. It’s one game and boosts his global brand, plus it’s in Italy where he spent eight years of his youth (while his father played professionally there).
Could the team recoup $2 million on one Kobe game? Maybe. That’s reportedly about what the Lakers pull in per game in gross revenue, and if Virtus can get sponsors and a special broadcast maybe it works. Plus, a lot of people will buy Virtus Kobe jerseys.
But I’ll believe it when I see it.