LA Lakers: Kobe Bryant to Play "Tribute to Kobe" Game for Virtus Bologna?

Luke JohnsonContributor IIIOctober 13, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04:  Kobe Bryant listens as Derek Fisher, President of the National Basketball Players Association, speaks at a press conference after NBA labor negotiations at The Westin Times Square on October 4, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Rome's professional basketball team Virtus Bologna has offered a multi-million dollar one-game contract to get the NBA's greater star, Kobe Bryant, to play a tribute game in his own honor.

The deal implies many things when it comes to both the future of the Lakers star and the NBA as a whole.

Long known as the game's greatest stage and platform for players to both join the entertainment world and model their blacktop skills, the NBA seemingly is losing its footing from the Macro sense of things.

Multiple trends are engaging this proposition, evolving the professional experience for the American and international hoops star, and recreating the overall experience of professional basketball. 

A league that long held its world grandeur by dangling mega guaranteed contracts, ultimately shot itself in the foot, endorsing poor performance in the regular season and distancing the athlete from the everyday fan.

This distance monetarily (the lack of need to earn a paycheck) has metaphorically created a class structure in the billion dollar industry... the player whom assumed his role as king; and the fan, the mediocre serfdom.

As the lockout wanes and the average fan loses regular season games and possibly the season as a whole, most NBA players are happily going about their lives atop a mountain of cushy livelihood.

To think many of the NBA stars can benefit from the lockout while the fan misses his or her favorite sport is a perfect sign of the times.

While the NBA wilts under the pressure of a two-sided Cold War, the rest of the world continues, hoping to upend the current worldwide favorite by manifesting its own million-dollar packages.

The money proposed by Virtus Bologne, is more money than Bryant has ever seen in the NBA.

Had he earned this type of money per game in a regular season schedule, the star would earn 82 to 164 million dollars a year.

This proves that the NBA IS NOT the only place where a player can earn more than enough money, receive hysterical praise and experience top tier competition.

Not only does Bryant get a nice chunk of offseason spending money, but hey, while he's at it, the man could playing a game in his own honor.

Who experiences this type of celebration before death?

Had it not been for scheduling problems with Italian television and the league schedule, Bryant very well could be swayed to waive goodbye officially to the NBA.

Making enormous plots of money is only one part of the European giant, as recent trends have also displayed just how good overseas players have become.

In the 2011 NBA draft, seven European/African-born players were drafted in the first round, three in the Top 10. 

Recent NBA champions were led by the Dallas Mavericks' German-born Dirk Nowitski, and the San Antonio Spurs' French man, Toni Parker.

For competitors like Bryant this is of the essence, as it continues to build his resume as one of the greatest athletes in world history.

Conquer America, check.

Conquer the world, check.


Historically, a league cannot bounce back after this fragmentation of trust. 

The NBA had already survived the 1999 lockout but will not be able to withstand another. Eventually the fan will move on to other high tempo and enticing sport, leaving the league in a wake of dollar trailed dust.

An example of this came in 1994, when Baseball fell from the hands of grace. After the lockout, the game America loved fell to the third spot in popularity.

This similar misstep by the NBA, mixed with exciting parody in this year's MLB playoffs, logically propels baseball into the runner-up role behind the NFL. 

Had the NFL continued their own lockout, baseball might have reclaimed its formal glory. 

This proves just how brittle league-wide popularity really is, making one wonder whether or not we will see a surge in popularity for college hoops, the WNBA , American soccer, the NHL or pro tennis, in replace of pro basketball.

While the NBA works out the battle of the brats, we know the players lack the league pride to make a deal happen. We also are aware of the fact that overseas offers nearly everything the NBA can. And while we the fans wait for a deal to be worked out, one by one, slowly but surely, our hearts will become hard with cynicism, never to be captured again.

For Bryant and the rest of his NBA constituents, this seems to be an afterthought, an annoyance.

But for you and for me, it is the hard elements of reality.