Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has said that playing basketball for an Italian team is a real possibility for him this year.
The National Basketball Association locked out its players in July when a collective bargaining agreement expired. The lockout is a result of labor strife that has been increasing over the past few years. With the lock out still in place, the future of the 2011-2012 season is in jeopardy.
With minimal prospects in the United States, Kobe Bryant is seriously exploring playing in Italy for the remainder of the lockout.
Bryant’s father played for several Italian teams and Kobe spent much of his childhood in Italy. The basketball star speaks fluent Italian and told a sports newspaper in Milan: “There's a good possibility that I'll play in Italy”.
The 33-year-old is currently negotiating with Virtus Bologna for a contract that would allow him to leave the Italian team when the Lakers overcome their labor dispute.
The lock out began after players rejected a deal from NBA leaders that would have raised average player salaries to $7 million in the sixth year of the new agreement.
Rumors suggest that Kobe Bryant would receive $550,000-600,000 a game to play for Bologna.