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?
It looks like the ride on the Kobe Bryant publicity train is almost over for Italian club Virtus Bologna, but the team is going public trying to milk it for all its worth.
Not that they didn’t want him — they re-arranged the league’s schedule to help facilitate his arrival. It’s just that it was always a long shot. And not one of those Kobe late-game fade-away threes long, more like three-quarters court long. But Virtus tried, all the while milking the publicity.
The club spoke again with Kobe’s agent and is down to asking for a one-game deal for the Lakers superstar, according to Sportando.
Claudio Sabatini, owner of Virtus Bologna, confirmed at Radiofuturoshow Station that he had another conference call with Kobe’s agent and that it is real the hypotesis ‘one game’ for Bryant. ‘Last night we had another conference call with Bryant’s agent. Now we just have to wait the contract. We accepted his financial request and we submitted him two different proposals, for one game or for 40 days. Now the decision is up to him. We thought about the one game option to speed up the negotiations. He could land on Sunday, play the game against Benetton Treviso next Wednesday and maybe stay longer with us. People who don’t agree about the idea to have Kobe for just one game, have to understand that we all hope he can stay longer. Furthermore, Kobe has to be back to States in two weeks because of his sponsor. Now we are waiting for his final answer. We can just say that we tried to do as much as we could to have him with us’ said Sabatini, as reported by Bolognabasket.it.
There is a slim chance Kobe will approve some form of a deal. Stranger things have happened, like Kobe having a teammate named World Peace. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
It’s the rumor that has been floating around out of Italy — if Kobe Bryant doesn’t sign with Virtus Bologna, the team will ink Manu Ginobili to a deal.
Kobe described his plans in Italy as “up in the air” at the labor talks Tuesday in New York, but Ginobili is not on board. Not yet, maybe not ever.
That is what his agent told the San Antonio News Express.
Ginobili’s agent, Herb Rudoy, on Tuesday emphatically refuted that report, writing in a text message, “Not true!” when asked if Ginobili had made any such agreement.
It could still happen in theory. But with a deal still possible to save most or all of the NBA season, nobody is pushing to make a move yet. If talks really fall apart and games get cancelled, you could see a number of players make a move overseas pretty quickly.
If only the sense of urgency and willingness to compromise we see from the Italian league in efforts to bring in Kobe Bryant could be seen from the NBA and its players union in talks to end the lockout.
Because in Italy they are doing whatever it takes to get a deal done.
We told you over the weekend Kobe and his people were working to find a way to share the money his playing would generate with teams around the league (that’s revenue sharing among owners). Now those teams are working “intensely” to rearrange schedules to accommodate Kobe’s arrival and get in more games during his time there, according to a released statement. So the Italian league is like the NBA in one sense — money talks and they’ll do just about anything for it. Integrity be damned.
According to Sportando, some of that rearranging has been done. Virtus Bologna has had it’s bye week pushed back to the eighth week of the Italian season — after Kobe will have gone back to the United States, after his proposed 40-day deal — and some midweek games have been added to their schedule.
Virtus Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini spoke to the media Monday about his efforts to sign Kobe, because Sabatini is a publicity whore trying to garner as much attention out of this as he can. (Yes, I know, we’re writing about him, I get the irony.)
“I hope that very shortly we’ll have a deal,” Sabatini said Monday, according to the ANSA news agency. “I want to thank Kobe, who demonstrated again overnight that he wants to return to Italy.”
Despite all that, I’ll believe it when I see Kobe lace up his Nikes and walk on an Italian court. I can come up with logical reasons it could happen — Kobe’s Italian roots, the international marketing possibilities, etc. — but I still would bet against it. However, at least they are trying.
It’s hard to buy into any talk of Kobe Bryant playing overseas after the debacle with Turkish team Besiktas. And just like with Besiktas, it’s team officials who are blabbing too much for Italian club Virtus Bologna, threatening to undermine their own chances of landing the five-time NBA champion. But according to Yahoo!, Kobe’s invested enough in this deal to not only want his money, but a system to help the entire league. Yes, that’s right. A player locked out by his own league, in part because of the humongous differential between the club he plays for and the others, wants a stronger support system for the entire league. The irony is suffocating.
Kobe Bryant is pushing forward with the negotiation of a complex agreement with Virtus Bologna that the Los Angeles Lakers star hopes will create a partnership with the teams in the struggling Italian League to share in the financial benefits of his arrival there, sources with knowledge of the talks told Yahoo! Sports.
via Kobe pushing for contract in Italy – NBA – Yahoo! Sports.
Bryant of course has a history with Italy, having spent several years there as a kid. He clearly has the interests of the entire league and not just getting his at heart. (Though he will undoubtedly get one of if not the biggest foreign basketball contract in history.) Also odd is the fact that talks are progressing at this pace with the NBA negotiations having accelerated in the past two weeks towards a resolution. Either Bryant is simply pursuing a viable backup plan, or he knows something we don’t.