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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Saturday / February 23.
  • Greek Team Offers Kobe $83 Million

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    Could Kobe Bryant be the next American to play professionally in Europe?

    The Greek team Olympiacos is reportedly set to offer Bryant $83 million tax-free to play for them for three years, according to a report on the Italian site

    Bryant’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally in Italy and Kobe speaks fluent Italian.

    According to The Hoop blog, the Italian site claims to have inside knowledge of the contract, which would include a villa in the Mediterranean Sea; a private boat for Kobe; and a full-service staff.

    Sonny Vaccaro, the former grassroots sneaker guru who signed Bryant to a sneaker deal with adidas and also brokered Brandon Jennings’ deal with an Italian team, says he doesn’t believe the offer to Bryant would be for this year.

    “I have no personal knowledge of it,” he said by phone. “I believe that people are talking about doing it next year. They got a whole (NBA) season to play. A lot of things can change.”

    Still, Vaccaro said it’s inevitable that offers will be made to NBA players trying to lure them to Europe.

    “I do believe because of the new economics, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any NBA basketball in Europe, so I believe they’re going to make offers, yes,” Vaccaro said.

    Olympiacos, which has a $70 million operating budget, is also reportedly trying to turn itself into an “NBA-style club” that accomodates 15-20,000 fans and features a private jet for the team.

    This latest rumor follows a recent story by Pete Thamel in the New York Times about former NBA player Josh Childress, who signed a three-year, $20M contract with Olympiacos that makes him the “highest-paid basketball player in the world outside of the NBA.”

    “I get paid double, my role increases, I have no expenses and I move to a nice city?” Childress told The Times. “How many guys wouldn’t do that, regardless if you’re a lawyer or a doctor? In a business sense, if I were to tell people that I passed on that deal, I would be stupid. That would be the next headline: Josh Childress Shouldn’t Have Gone to Stanford. He’s an Idiot.”

    The Greek club is owned by the Angelopoulos brothers, George and Panayiotis, whose family owns shipping and steel companies, and stated their intention to poach more players from the NBA. The club has already offered contracts to NBA players Chris Webber, James Posey and Michael Finley in the past two years, according to Thamel.

    “I think we’ll see a day when a superstar player comes to Europe, but to Olympiacos, not to another team,” Panayiotis Angelopoulos told the Times. “That is my answer. Maybe it will be very soon. Maybe then you realize what I’m telling you is serious.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.