Saturday , Feb , 12 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant ‘wouldn’t be opposed to’ playing in Italy in 2012

Then what happens to the NBA? And what would Kobe Bryant do if there is a lockout? He might play in Europe. "I wouldn’t be opposed to it," he said Friday. "You know how much I love Italy. I grew up there."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He may say Arrevederci to the NBA and Salve to Italy.

There’s a possibility Kobe Bryant, one of the world’s best players, might bolt America and ply his trade in Italy if the NBA has a prolonged work stoppage in 2011-12.

This is not a ploy or bargaining strategy.

Bryant’s dad played several seasons in Italy. He grew up there. He speaks Italian and has a special affinity and appreciation for the country. Bryant and his family would be comfortable spending a year abroad.

Two years ago, there were rumblings Bryant and the other free agents from the class of 2010 would sign with rich European clubs because their earnings couldn’t be capped by the salary cap.

Of course, the Black Mamba doesn’t need money, but he wouldn’t pass on $20-25 million tax free, especially if the NBA is sitting idle.

Finally, Bryant would like the pace of European basketball. There are fewer games and less travel, which reduce the impact on his knee. He’d also stay fit for when the player’s union and owners iron out their differences.

Bottom line: don’t be surprised if Bryant spends 2012 in Italy.

–Oly Sandor.

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