NBA Rumors: Did You Know Kobe Was Fluent in Italian?

Daniel Mulligan GoldsteinContributor IOctober 3, 2011

LANDOVER, MD - JULY 30:  NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant reacts to the crowd during a half time event at the Manchester United and Barcelona friendly match at FedExField on July 30, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Most good rumors start with a grain of truth.  Yes, it is true Kobe speaks fluent Italian, having moved there when he was six while his Dad played pro ball for a series of Italian teams.   So he must be seriously considering playing in Italy then right?

It wasn't long ago the biggest NBA rumor going around the league was that Euro-bred NBA players were soft and would break down in the rough-and-tumble NBA Playoffs and never lead their teams to a NBA championship. No one embodied that rumor better than Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzky.  Well, I guess that one didn't turn out to be true.

The newest NBA rumor is that (insert your favorite player here) is signing with some team that you have never heard of in Italy, Turkey, Russia or someplace else you would rather your guy not even take an offseason vacation, never mind play professional basketball.

With millions to billions of real dollars at stake, there is one thing for sure that is not a rumor:  The propaganda war between NBA players and NBA owners is rolling right along at full force.  

Agents may push players to take trips overseas and look into the possibility of playing for foreign teams, hoping that the report of the visit makes it back home to NBA front offices.  

"Oh no!", agents picture GM's saying, "We better give the players what they want or they will just sign with some foreign team."  

And it is not all rumor—there are a few players who have signed legit non opt-out foreign contracts, mostly foreign born NBA'ers who already have experience playing there. (Celtics Nenad Kristic, Nets Sasha Vujacic are a couple examples.)  Most of the true talent signed short opt-out contracts that free them to return to NBA play as soon as negotiations wrap up.  So, if the rumor that your guy has signed to play in Europe turns out to be true, barring traumatic injury, you still don't have much to worry about.

Secretly, there is probably more than one NBA GM rooting for Deron Williams, or another of the very few name NBA players overseas, to suffer a season-ending type injury.  The propaganda machine works both ways, don't you forget, and if a player causes real damage to his NBA future while on tour for one of the Euro teams,  NBA owners will be the ones with the leverage, not the players.

Most pundits say the NBA labor negotiations between players and owners are far from being over, until then, at least we have a heaping helping of Italian, Greek and Turkish to feed our NBA appetites.