Andrea Bargnani is in London as part of he Raptors trip to the capital for the ground breaking first regular season games to be played outside of the U.S and Canada and if you think that fact had been overlooked by the media, you were wrong.
Throngs of Italian reporters surround the 7’0 Rome born centre and fill the air around him with words I couldn’t possibly hope to understand. In reply, Bargnani answers back in the same language as if switching from English to Italian causes him as few problems as he will be hoping for from his defender on Friday night.
The Italian media’s questions are lengthy and waiting for the chance to speak feels like waiting for my next birthday. It’s lengthy.
But when the opportunity comes and the question is asked: “If an NBA franchise was ever created in Italy, would you be interested in playing for them?” Bargnani greets the question with a smile, reverts back to his second language (English) and answers:
“I don’t know. I don’t wish to be traded because I’m happy to be here in Toronto but if a franchise was ever in Europe, I think that would be great for basketball in general.”
Understandably, Bargnani doesn’t want to commit to saying he’s looking to leave Toronto in the near future. After all, they’re his employers and he seems genuinely happy where he is.
But what if the situation was to change? What if, despite the best efforts of all involved, a similar outcome to the one that occurred for the 1999 season happened and a lockout took place. Would Bargnani look to keep sharp by playing in Europe?
AB: “It depends how long it’s going to be. If there is gonna be one, it depends how long it’s gonna be. If it’s gonna be just a couple of months, then players with contracts will not be going overseas to play. But if it’s gonna be a whole year, it’s a whole different thing”.
‘But would you personally consider it?’
AB: “If it’s one year lock-out, yeah, everyone would consider that, definitely.”
‘Would you go back to Italy?’
AB: “No, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it yet. I really hope there isn’t going to be a one year lock-out. That would be terrible”.
The possibilities to come to Europe during a potential lockout are there for every player in the NBA, it’s just a matter of whether they choose to go down that route. And while Bargnani is still undecided, the lure of home has to be great.
Although I’m not sure just how long the contract negotiations will go on for, there are going to be a lot of fingers crossed in Italy for an NBA break, of that I am sure.
Follow Keith Firmin on Twitter @keiththejourno