Arrivederci Kobe Bryant

 

Virtus Bologna isn’t the nickname for the New York City cop who allegedly pepper sprayed women during the Occupy Wall Street protests.

It’s also not a fancy new type of deli meat.

Virtus Bologna is the name of an Italian basketball club that NBA superstar Kobe Bryant may be play for in October, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Bryant reached a verbal agreement with the team today to play during the first 40 games of the Italian season for $3 million, reported the LA Times.

The deal is 95 percent done, said Virtus Bologna team owner Claudio Sabitini to BolognaBasket, an Italian sports website.

Virtus Bologna and Bryant have been top trending topics this morning on Twitter. In the past six hours, Bryant and Bologna have been mentioned more than 5,500 times combined, according to social media statistics generator Topsy.

“Oh man looks like the Lakers are about to lose Kobe to Italian team Virtus Bologna. What has this world come to? #endthelockout!” tweeted Rommel Fuentes (@DMV_rommick).

“Despite what the team said I just can’t picture Kobe Bryant signing a 40-day contract with Virtus Bologna for $3 million,” tweeted ESPN writer Arash Markazi.

But what Markazi has overlooked is that Bryant has lived and played in Italy before, and he certainly doesn’t need the money.

When he was 6-years-old, Bryant and his family moved to Italy so his father could continue playing professional basketball. It was there that Bryant started developing his basketball skills, learned to play soccer, and picked up Italian.

Bryant is currently the highest paid player in the NBA, receiving $25.2 million a year, according to Hoops Hype. That doesn’t even include about $20 million in endorsement deals from Nike and other companies.

The fact of the matter is that the 2011-12 NBA season is in serious jeopardy of being canceled, with Commissioner David Stern approaching this weekend’s negotiations with a make-or-break attitude.

Without much else to do, Bryant “can’t just sit around for a year,” as Nathaniel (@irvingtonhero23) tweeted.

It looks like Bryant will join fellow NBA player Deron Williams overseas, and Twitter seems to agree.

But never fear, hoops heads. Bryant’s contract with Virtus Bologna should allow him to “return to the Lakers immediately if the lockout ends,” reported ESPN. The real concern then is if Bryant will come back uninjured. Regardless, Twitter has his back.

Photo by Keith Allison.

Fernando Alfonso III

Fernando Alfonso III

Fernando Alfonso III served as an early Reddit and 4chan reporter and the Daily Dot’s first art director until 2016. He’s gone on to report at Lexington’s Herald-Leader and at the Houston Chronicle.