Cubs

Details of Kobe's contract offer from Italy

516262.jpg

Details of Kobe's contract offer from Italy

From Comcast SportsNet Friday, September 23, 2011
ROME (AP) -- Kobe Bryant has been offered a 6.7 million, one-season contract to play for the Italian team Virtus Bologna, appealing to his childhood memories of growing up in the country. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar spent part of his youth in Italy while his father played there. He speaks Italian, prompting Bologna to hope he might return if there's an NBA lockout. Virtus Bologna general manager Massimo Faraoni tells The Associated Press he's been on conference calls between Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, Bologna president Claudio Sabatini and main sponsor Canadian Solar, which would provide the cash for such a deal. "I think the fact that he's lived in Italy makes this appealing to him," Faraoni said. Virtus has given Bryant four different contract options, stretching from the one-year deal to two-month and one-month options, and a per-game deal that would come out to 739,640 per home game. All of the offers are pretax and would allow Bryant to return to the Lakers immediately if the lockout ends. Turkish club Besiktas and at least one team in China have expressed interest in the 33-year-old Bryant, who has won five NBA championships and been an All-Star 13 times. Faraoni watched Bryant when he played in Pistoia's youth system in the late 1980s. "I saw him when he was a kid, and he already had a lot of passion for the game then," Faraoni said. Bryant's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, played in Italy with Rieti, Reggio Calabria, Pistoia and Reggiana from 1984-1991. The elder Bryant now coaches the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA. Virtus also reached out to Manu Ginobili, who played with Bologna before joining the San Antonio Spurs in 2002. Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari rejoined his former Italian club Olimpia Milano on Tuesday. Other NBA players are committing to play in leagues outside the United States. Nuggets free agents Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith plan to play in China, Denver's Ty Lawson will play in Lithuania and New Jersey Nets All-Star Deron Williams signed with Turkish club Besiktas. Virtus has won 15 Italian league titles but none since 2001, when it also won the Euroleague for the second time. Virtus has asked fans to send messages supporting the recruitment of Bryant to a "Bologna for Bryant" email address, which will be published on the team's website. Bologna opens the Italian league against Roma on Oct. 9. It did not qualify for this season's Euroleague, although the team has big ambitions after signing former Clemson point guard Terrell McIntyre, who led Siena to four consecutive Italian titles before transferring to Malaga in Spain last season. "I think we already have a competitive squad for Serie A, but Kobe is obviously a great champion and he would make a great addition to the team," Faraoni said. "I would put us just behind Milano and Siena." The NBA season usually begins in late October but owners and players have failed to agree on a new labor deal. The two sides are at odds over how to divide the league's revenue, a salary cap structure and the length of guaranteed contracts.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

andre_dawson.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion. 

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

0219_alec_hansen.jpg
AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.