Expect a “fairly careful” Kobe Bryant to play in Italy

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Talks are moving along for Kobe Bryant to play for Virtus Bologna in the Italian League — if the NBA labor talks stall out in New York, Kobe might really make the jump.

Just don’t expect the full Kobe Bryant.

Part of what makes Kobe “Kobe” is an unrelenting drive and desire to win every game — he’s always intense on the court. But that switch may be flipped off in Italy, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Bryant, 33, had a procedure on an arthritic joint in his right knee in Germany in the summer. If he plays in Italy, he will probably do so “fairly carefully,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Translation: There probably won’t be many blind crashes to the hoop or wild dunk attempts.

It doesn’t really matter. This is not Pele coming to the New York Cosmos well past his prime, this is a player at the height of his popularity heading overseas. The money made on jersey sales alone is going to make some body wealthy.

I still will not believe it until I see it, but the move of Kobe overseas is gaining some momentum.