Virtus Bologna’s President, Claudio Sabatini is confident about Los Angeles Lakers’ crown jewel Kobe Bryant signing a contract with the Italian club. Sabatini admits there are obstacles like the NBA lockout and scheduling problems posed by other teams but is optimistic Bryant playing in Italy this year.
In a press release Sabatini informed that Bryant's agent Rob Pelinka had agreed to a contract of 35 to 40 days which was worth more than $3 million. Around 10 games will be played in this time period. "We're very confident the deal can be completed," Sabatini said. "We're prepared to make a big investment."
Sabatini also said that funds for the deal will not be a problem. He told media that a couple of sponsors had already lined up for the deal but a Bologna-based food company is set to provide the cash.
"Kobe and his agent have been very professional throughout the dealings and it's been a pleasure to work with them," Sabatini said. "I have a huge amount of respect for Kobe not just as a player, but also as a person."
Bologna has requested to play 5 of their opening 10 games at home, however other teams are not willing to disturb their schedule to accommodate Bologna and Bryant. Sabatini was optimistic about the whole process, he said, "I think good sense will prevail."
Ironically, his buoyant state was in stark contrast to the statements issued by the club earlier in the day:
"With great surprise, Virtus Basketball notes that, due to the negative view of some clubs, it's not possible to go forward with the 10-game agreement, therefore putting in serious doubt the economic deal behind the plan to bring Kobe Bryant to Italy," the statement said.
According to reports Cremona and Varese are two clubs that refusing to change their schedules.
While talking to media Sabatini expressed the importance of acquiring Bryant, he stated, "We've got a chance to bring Bryant here ... and the nearsightedness of other clubs is making it impossible. If we were at the end of the season, with clubs fighting to avoid relegation or for the playoffs, I would understand. But now nobody has anything on the line."
Bryant spent much of his childhood in Italy because of his father who was also a professional basketball player. Rumors about Bryant agreeing to the deal are increasing by the minute, it looks like an official statement is due this weekend.
Bryant happened to be in Italy for the past two days because of a couple sponsorship appearances. He has now travelled to New York where he will be participating in the NBA labor talks to end the lockout.