Kobe Bryant has reached a verbal agreement with a team in the country he called "home" in an interview with an Italian newspaper. Bryant reached the agreement -- a $3 million contract for the opening 40 days of the Italian league season -- with club team Virtus Bologna, according to the Associated Press, citing a source familiar with the negotiations.
In an interview earlier this week with Gazzetta dello Sport, Bryant said: "Italy is my home. 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.''
Bryant added that playing in Italy "would be a dream for me.''
The Lakers' star spent much of his childhood in Italy and still speaks the language.
Bryant will get a work visa and return to Italy next week, the AP reported. The agreement allows Bryant to play there during the NBA lockout, then return to LA.
Virtus' season is scheduled to open Oct. 9. Bryant will probably play about 10 games with the team.
Bologna president Claudio Sabatini wants to create a special schedule that assigns Bryant's games to Italy's biggest arenas, the AP reported.
The 33-year-old Bryant has three years and $83.5 million left on his contract with the Lakers.
Bryant lived in Italy with his father, Joe Bryant, between the ages of six and 13. Joe Bryant played for several Italian teams from 1984 to 1991.