1. Italy: A Second Home
Kobe Bryant lived in Italy from ages 6-13, he speaks fluent Italian and would easily be able to immerse himself in the culture.
Winning new fans in Italy and Europe will increase his popularity outside of the U.S. and give him far more opportunities to do business.
The NBA lockout continues, and it has no end in sight and players need to set up their short-term basketball futures.
It is always about the money. Any Italian team that wants Kobe Bryant understands the need to give a substantial amount to get him. The salary Kobe will make overseas (up to $5 million for a season) is worth his time to play in Italy.
If and when Kobe plays in Italy, he will have the freedom to play, or not play, at his own choice.