Kobe: Playing in Italy still 'very possible'

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Kobe: Playing in Italy still 'very possible'

From Comcast SportsNet
MILAN (AP) -- Kobe Bryant said it's "very possible" he will play in Italy during the NBA lockout, adding the country is like home because he spent part of his childhood there. Virtus Bologna has made numerous contract offers to the Los Angeles Lakers star. Bryant discussed the offer with the Gazzetta dello Sport during a sponsor's appearance in Milan on Wednesday. "It's very possible. It would be a dream for me," Bryant said, according to the Gazzetta. "There's an opportunity that we've been discussing over the last few days. It's very possible and that's good news for me." Bryant later spoke to a crowd -- in Italian -- at the event in Milan. "I don't know what's going to happen over the next three or four weeks, but Italy has always been in my heart," Bryant said. Virtus told The Associated Press that the latest talks are centered on a 2.5 million offer for 10 games over 40 days from Oct. 9 to Nov. 16. That would come out to about 1.5 million after taxes. The deal would allow Bryant to return to the Lakers immediately if the lockout ends. The 33-year-old Bryant spent several years in Italy when his father, Joe Bryant, played on five teams from 1984-91. The elder Bryant, who once owned a small part of Olimpia Milano, now coaches the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA. "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," Kobe Bryant said, according to the Gazzetta. "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." Turkish club Besiktas and at least one team in China have expressed interest in Bryant, a winner of five NBA championships and 13-time All-Star. However, he seems most interested in the Virtus offer. "It's a huge honor for me to return to Italy. It's home for me," Bryant said in fairly fluent Italian in a video posted on the Gazzetta website. "It's always been a dream for me to play in Italy. We've got to wait and see what happens." Virtus also recently 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 last week. 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. Last week, NBA officials announced the postponement of training camp and the cancellation of 43 preseason games. Virtus has won 15 Italian league titles but none since 2001, when it also won the Euroleague for the second time. 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.

Bears draft Miami safety Deon Bush, workout partner of Antrel Rolle

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Bears draft Miami safety Deon Bush, workout partner of Antrel Rolle

In one of those ironies of NFL life, Miami safety Deon Bush frequently worked with fellow Hurricane and NFL veteran Antrel Rolle. Now Bush is on a vector that puts him on a possible roster collision course with Rolle.

Rolle was hampered by injuries all year, starting just seven games before finishing the season on injured reserve.

“I grew up watching Antrel Rolle, and while he was down here in Miami I was working out with him, so he's kind of like a mentor to me,” Bush said. “He's been in the league for a long time and I want to be in the league for a long time, so there's a lot to learn from him. It's just great having another player from ‘The U,’ being like a family, like a brotherhood and it'll be great playing with him.”

Where Bush fits warrants watching, with Adrian Amos ensconced at free safety but the other position is very much shrouded in doubt.

That has become something of a Bears tradition at safety.

In 2014 the Bears selected Minnesota safety Brock Vereen in the fourth round. By the end of that season Vereen was starting alongside Ryan Mundy.

But the Bears signed Rolle early in free agency and Vereen lost the starting job almost at the outset of training camp, eventually released in late September. Mundy went on injured reserve with a hip injury and was done for the year.

Last year the Bears drafted Amos out of Penn State in the fifth round. He became a day one starter alongside Rolle.

Bush projects as an immediate fit for special teams but also has shown the speed (4.48 sec. in the 40) to work in coverage, a critical skill set for a position once viewed more in terms of run support. Bush collected 103 tackles and three interceptions over his junior and senior seasons, in addition to forcing five fumbles in the 2014 season.

“I take big pride in being a big hitter, that's how I grew up playing the game,” Bush said. “I've been trying to be the best hitter on my team (since my early days). I just take pride. That's how I like to play the game of football. I like to play tough, I like to put fear in my opponent and that's a big thing in my game.”

Bears increase LB competition with another trade, draft WVU ILB Nick Kwiatkoski

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Bears increase LB competition with another trade, draft WVU ILB Nick Kwiatkoski

Keeping in step with the twin themes of the Bears’ 2016 draft, GM Ryan Pace started Day 3 exactly as he did Days 1 and 2 – with a trade – dealing up in the fourth round to select West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who immediately dials up the competition level at inside linebacker.

And some good feelings. Former Mountaineers teammate Kevin White, the Bears’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft, immediately tweeted:

“I’m pretty close with Kevin,” Kwiatkoski said. “He came into West Virginia as a junior-college player, lived two doors down from me, and have stayed close with him. I lived with his brother Karon at West Virginia this past year.”

Kwiatkoski, 6-2, 241 pounds, fits the template for inside linebackers in the 3-4 scheme of John Fox/Vic Fangio, with mobility enough in his senior seasons to post three interceptions, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven passes defensed and a team-high 86 tackles. He had six interceptions and 14 passes defensed in his four West Virginia seasons.

“My junior year I played a lot more of the sub packages," he said. "This past year, I played them but not as much. But I feel like I can stay on the field for a third-down guy and different sub packages. This year I’m transitioning to outside backer so I was in coverage a lot more than I was the prior year so that definitely helps contribute to that.”

Kwiatkoski also goes into a competitive cauldron with offseason signees Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman in addition to ILB holdovers Christian Jones, Jonathan Anderson and John Timu. Pace has said throughout the offseason that increasing competition was a goal, and the nature of the picks has followed that lead.

The Bears gave the St. Louis Rams the sixth-round draft pick they’d acquired from Carolina in the Jared Allen trade early last season. The deal allowed them to move from No. 117 to No. 113, another move pointing to the Bears targeting best players available on their board and moving to get them.

Sheryl Swoopes under investigation for coaching practices at Loyola

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Sheryl Swoopes under investigation for coaching practices at Loyola

Loyola women's basketball coach Sheryl Swoopes is under investigation for coaching practices at the university.

The investigation was sparked after 10 of the team's 12 players have transferred or have requested releases — nine having been recruited by Swoopes. Loyola began an "independent and comprehensive university investigation" on April 15.

According to Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, five former players have stated that Swoopes' "unusual coaching style" was the reason behind their exits.

Swoopes has declined to comment on any allegations, according to Ryan. Loyola released the following statement on Thursday:

"Until the investigation is completed, the athletics department and women's basketball coaching staff are conducting business as usual as we prepare for the 2016-2017 season."

Swoopes is listed as one of the greatest WNBA players of all-time. She was hired to coach Loyola's women's basketball team in 2013.

Click here to read the full story from the Chicago Tribune.