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Kobe Bryant Could Be Saying 'Arrivederci' to L.A.

Pau Gasol laughing as Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest clown around on the bench in Detroit. (AP)
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Basketball labor fights aren't like other kinds of labor fights. When other laborers want to protest, they go on strike. Kobe Bryant? He's threatening to go to Italy.

The Lakers star has three years and $83.5 million left on his Lakers contract, but thanks to a 3-month NBA lockout he's considering running off to Italy to play basketball there for a stint.

Reports suggest that he's given his verbal agreement to play for Virtus Bologna already. Bryant will be paid $3 million for the opening 40 days of the Italian league season, the Associated Press reported today.

"Deal is done at 95 percent," Virtus Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini told Sportando.

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Oh, but that 5 percent.

Not everyone is convinced that this move is a go. Some are speculating that this is nothing but a big power play by Bryant during an important weekend for labor negotiations. Others believe that this is nothing more than an expression of Bryant's passione for Italy. The AP reports that Bryant's contract with Virtus would allow him to come back to the Lakers by November 1 if the lockout ends.

Other deals for Bryant to play for Turkey and China have fallen through, but Italy seems like a more likely candidate for Bryant who spent his six years of his childhood there.

"Italy is my home," Bryant said. "It's where my dream of playing in the NBA started. This is where I learned the fundamentals, learned to shoot, to pass and to [move] without the ball … all things that when I came back to America, the players my age didn't know how to do because they were only thinking about jumping and dunking."