The courtship of Kobe Bryant: Breaking up is hard to do

We’ve all been there.

We’ve all had partners in our past where, over time, the relationship ran its course due to arguing, bickering and the inability to see eye to eye.

After an ugly break-up and months of sparse communication, we hear rumors they’re seeing some European type.  We remain confident there’s no way our ex’s newfound fling could ever rival the moments we once shared, but still, doubt creeps in.

Well, over the past few months of NBA labor unrest – a misnomer since these guys hardly labor – rumors have spread that, in the absence of an NBA season, some of the league’s biggest names are seeking refuge in the arms of another overseas.

Years ago, Brandon Jennings caused a splash when he thumbed his nose at both the NBA and NCAA and signed with Italy’s Lottomatica Roma.  He now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, also a misnomer since the Bucks aren’t technically ‘playing.’

This summer, with the ever-increasing likelihood of a shortened, or even canceled, NBA season, New Jersey Net point guard Deron Williams has agreed to play in Turkey.  Denver Nugget Kenyon Martin signed on to play in China.  Joakim Noah played for the French national team.  Portland Trailblazer (and Spaniard) Rudy Fernandez also returned to his homeland.  And now, the league’s biggest name, Kobe Bryant, is at least considering his European tour.

Italy’s Virtus Bologna is making a hard push for the Mamba, tugging at the heartstrings of a man who once lived in Italy as a boy while his father played professional ball there. The Virtus deal is either worth $6.7 million or $3 million for a ten-game stint, depending on which reports you read.  Nobody outside his inner circle knows exactly how much truth lay behind these rumors and how much is merely leverage, but Bryant’s a big bargaining chip.

What we do know is that the embattled lovers of the NBA are nowhere closer to agreement than they were months ago.  They still differ on divisive issues such as revenue sharing and a hard salary cap.  The owners are crying broke.  With no paychecks, the players will soon be too.  In the ultimate game of chicken, neither party has budged.

Say what you will about Commissioner David Stern, he is primarily responsible for making the league what it is today, which is both good AND bad.  The NBA’s success relies more upon the personalities of its players than any other professional sports league.   That is Stern’s doing.   The NBA is also more popular overseas than ever before.  That too is Stern’s handiwork.  Those accomplishments may soon ironically backfire on the man who made that possible.

The NBA boasts the best basketball talent on the planet but due to as of yet irreconcilable differences, we might not get to see any of it this year, unless we tune into the European channel.  It’s safe to assume NBA TV won’t be airing those ballgames.  That’d be like us looking at romantic European vacation photos of our ex and their new partner.

And so we basketball fans sit, broken-hearted, watching players flee, wooed by courters of another sort.  Parting can be such sweet sorrow, not to mention a huge gamble for both players and the league.  It’s hard to imagine that the Association is worried any of it big names will find permanent residence elsewhere but they might want to at least consider that an option before their former partners start to realize the grass might just be greener elsewhere.

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32 Replies to “The courtship of Kobe Bryant: Breaking up is hard to do”

  1. Chris

    I’ve no problem with Kobe playing in Italy ! I mean it’s not as if he sought to play in Pakistan , Afghanistan or Iraq now is it ? Tony Parker is going to Italy as well but low and behold he’s part owner in the team he’s going to play for .

    Any type of pub’ is good publicity. Hence the reason why your namesake married Kim Kardashian . I mean it’s not as if his career with the Nets has taken off has it ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    Five Up ……. And Five Who Now Appear To Be On The Way Down ….If Not Out …….

    You Play The Game To Win …… But Are The Players Really Being Paid To Play ?

    The NBA is $4.5- $5.5 billion a year business upon which the revenues are split 57/43 in favor of the players. The hierarchy now wants a much more equitable ratio in the disbursement but the union refuses to budge on its original stance .

    If the Phillies fold like a cheap suit in the postseason will their demise be thought of as being more malignant than the Red Sox’s
    ? Their payroll is nothing to be sniffed at !


  2. I don’t know much about NBA player contracts, but it seems like if you’re under a contract and the league is locking you out of work, then the contract should be voided. I’m for all of the players going to Europe, China and elsewhere to play and screw the NBA owners and Stern too. The owners offered those contracts and they should live with them. I can’t get too broken up when billionaires lose $$$.

  3. Let me ask you this, Al.

    What should Stern’s role be in all this?

    Should he act as mediator? Should he represent one side more than another?

    And if there is no season, does he still receive a paycheck?

    I’m guessing yes.

  4. Snake…

    I’m not heartbroken about players or owners losing money. I’m just pissed we don’t get to watch any hoops, as are you.

    Here’s the thing.

    Your Celtics are going to be one teams hurt by all this. With that window a-closin’, your team’s clock is ticking. This was probably gonna be one of your final shots at another ring.

    On second thought, maybe a shortened season won’t add all that much wear and tear to those veteran legs.

  5. At this point, I’m thinking about saving $190 on next season’s NBA League Pass. I’m sure that ESPN will be showing a lot of games from Europe & China featuring former NBA stars. I can live with that until the two sides get their collective heads out of their asses. As for my Celtics, its always been more about the team than just winning. I’m a loyal fan, win or lose. Sort of like a Cubs fan. There’s still only one team tattoo on my body.

  6. Pingback: Sports Chump » The courtship of Kobe Bryant: Breaking up is hard … | Kobe Bryant

  7. Wait a minute… you mean they’re not playing basketball this year. Oh my, what shall I do with my time?

  8. Bill Walton smokes weed? lol I thought that he was just a little weird because he was from SoCal.

  9. Aer….

    Try to find a still-valuable, power-hitter that the Rays will be able to afford for pennies on the dollar.

    That should occupy basically your entire winter.

  10. Chris

    Being as Stern brought about this mess knowing full well that they should have started pre negotiation process I’d say he’s bears more than half of the blame ! If he’s not taking a wage ( alleged $20 mil’ a year salary) then it means nothing .

    If Stern were allowed to be part of the Israeli Palestinian peace process can you imagine how fu##ed up that would be ?

    My take on 10 NFL teams ………. five good and five bad !

    Bud Selig’s thinking on the postseason tv scheduling never ceases to amaze !

    Five Up ……. And Five Who Now Appear To Be On The Way Down ….If Not Out …….

    tophatal ……….

  11. Actually, Snake, I’m pretty sure Walton’s at a place in his life where he no longer needs to buy weed.

    He probably just has people give it to him in return for the simple pleasure of being able to tell their friends they gave Walton weed.

    Ain’t a bad gig if you can get it.

  12. The NBA is still making money, Al.

    I mean, if I run to my local Sports Authority and buy a Joakim Noah jersey, that money’s going somewhere.

    (Owners: please note I’m not rushing out to buy a Mikhail Prokhorov jersey)

    I just feel that a professional sports commissioner should be there to mediate the goings on in these type of negotiations more than anything else.

    I’m not so sure he’s doing that here.

  13. I’m still thinking they’ll get something done, and we’ll have basketball by Christmas. If Santa can’t bring me that, I don’t need anything thanks.

    Seems like the longer the players wait the worse deal they’re going to get, but if I was a good player I’d head overseas if the lockout continues… My proposal; they should just give me the percentage point difference and call it good.

  14. I guess no one told Delonte that Euros can pay for ammo too.

    Easy money for Kobe but kinda like Dave Grohl leaving the Foo Fighters to play county fairs with Good Charlotte…or a union grocery worker on strike for not getting a raise to $30 dollars an hour but taking a job at the local market for $10 when not picketing.

    How quickly we forget Latrell Sprewell.

  15. That’s what I love about you, Chap.

    You’re an optimist like me.

    I also think they’ll get shit done, BUT… at what cost?

    The league already suffers from image issues. Fortunately for the players, most of the fans are on their side in this case and rightfully so, although I was surprised to hear they’re actually earning 57% of league revenue.

    That’s pretty stout.

    Imagine that number existing in any other business ANYWHERE.

    Oh, and if I talk to Stern about getting you that last percentage point, fly me out to Vegas for a week and let’s work those card tables.

  16. Bleed…

    I heard somewhere that Delonte is bagging groceries or moving furniture or something.

    Maybe he’ll become the next Kurt Warner, ya know, minus the whole banging LeBron’s mom thing.

  17. Chris

    The NBA is making money in the same vain that we were being told Enron was and we all know how that b_##h ended up don’t we ?

    Explain to me how it is that Stern made that sure that 20 plus teams were loaned in excess of $350 million plus over the 24 months if they’re said to be making all that money ? [NBA teams have been loaned in excess of $1.6 billion over the past decade by major financial institutions ——– the Magic & Kings are but a number of the franchises that were amongst the recipients of the most recent bailout that came courtesy of Stern] . And over the last decade accumulated debt and loans amongst the franchises have risen over 200 % . Is that the template you would view as a viable business concern ?

    tophatal …….

  18. Stern is an antagonist and that has been his whole mantra the moment he declared that a lockout would be in force .

    Not that the union are any better to begin with Billy Hunter (NBPA Executive Director) and Derek Fisher (union president) are no better themselves . I mean you had both D Wade and LBJ heckling Stern like infantile kids merely because he didn’t view their situation as dire .

    Simply goes to show that there’s no common sense being shown on either side of this argument !

    So the Yankees bow out ? Who’s now having the last laugh amongst fans in ” Beantown ” and the ” Big Apple” do you think ?

    And to think prior to the start of their season fans in Detroit were calling for the heads of both Dave Dombrowski and Leyland ? It’s funny what six months can do in the world of baseball !

    tophatal ………..

  19. I dunno if it will “cost” the league much. Sure, the owners will lose money and so will the players, but I could care less about that. I think I’m the most worried about players coming back out of shape, and we see AND1 kind of games being played. Although if that does happen, maybe it would be a good thing for the Warriors…

    If Stern gives me that percentage point, we can go hit the same table as Jordan!

  20. Al…

    I wouldn’t go so far as to compare the NBA to Enron. After all, we know how comparisons of the sort ended up for Hank Williams, Jr.

    Although you do make a valid case for the NBA becoming the reason behind our down-trodden economy.

    When does Congress step in?

  21. Al…

    If I were Stern, I wouldn’t view Wade’s or LeBron’s situation as dire either. Those guys have nothing to worry about. It’s the other cats in the league, like Delonte, who have to resort to bagging groceries.

    Again, I think the ironic thing about this whole lockout is that this is Stern’s creation and now he’s reaping what he’s sewn.

    Oh, my caption contest celebrating Alex Rodriguez is up and running.

    Have fun.

  22. Chap…

    You and I both know that the first twenty games of the season are a wash anyway. Players are taking bad shots, dribbling balls of their feet and generally out of rhythm.

    But isn’t it entirely possible that one key player finds a comfortable home overseas and tells the NBA to eventually screw off?

    I know European teams have problems consistently paying their players but I also hear the South of France is pretty darn nice.

  23. Chris

    I wouldn’t trust the current administration or either legislative chamber of the House or Senate with the money from a kids’ lemonade stand much less the economy. Hell look at mess now being presided over after the advice Obama sought from the CEA and the Solyndra mess ? They told him no along with opposition from the CBO and OMB and he still dumped $500 million of taxpayers’ monies into that mess . Now we’re being told that taxpayer is now on the f_cking hook for another $350 million loaned to five other energy companies involved in the same area of alleged expertise . Five such bankruptcies in the last 18 months and these a##holes still haven’t got a $$$king clue !

    He’s now beginning to make his predecessor seem like a god-damn genius .

    As for Stern , Wade and LBJ what the hell do they have in common with populace en masse ? Each of them pulls down close to $20 million a year if not more . The avg’ US wage earner makes approx $ 40,000 and in some cases it’s way less than that . They (trio) cannot identify with public it large in terms of their plight . What we’re seeing from the league and union (NBPA- NBA Players’ Union) is simple greed and a business template that no longer works because of the sheer idiocy shown by the hierarchy of both groups . They have never planned for the long term and by that I am talking about decade ahead instead it’s from one year to the next .

    The NFL itself , will come unstuck with their latest deal because there’s little wiggle room in it in terms the compromises set . Ten years of a binding contract when we’ve seen repeated downturns in the economy within such a short period of time ? That’s utter nonsense on the part of the league hierarchy and union !

    tophatal ……..

  24. On my site below the comment’s box there ought to be a box where you can indicate (with a tick) you want to be notified of follow up comments . Does it appear there as and when you leave a comment ?

    tophatal ….

  25. I just saw Bill Walton at Further in Las Vegas with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. He was walking like his knees were killing him.

  26. Wow…

    JP Flowers leaving his first official comment. I am very impressed.

    I agree with you.

    At this point, Kobe’s calling the shots. If anything, the Lakers and the NBA lose on him going overseas.

    I’m not sure if it will happen. It just might and that’ll be entirely Kobe’s call.

    I would imagine it would be a media circus if your boy goes over there.

    Let’s just hope some Italian cat doesn’t make a name for himself by dunking on the guy.

    You and I both know it’s best to respect one’s elders.

  27. RB…

    I was at a summer baseball camp as a kid WAY back in the day.

    (Yes, they had baseball then)

    I remember for some reason, Joe Namath was there, probably because the camp was in upstate New York.

    Dude, this was probably late 70s.

    The thing I remember most of all was Namath’s knees. I had never seen scars like that.

    This was way before Suzie Kolber.

  28. I’ve written half the season off already. That’s how much faith I (don’t) have in players and the commish reaching an agreement.

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