There were rumors that Kobe Bryant had agreed to terms with a team in the Chinese Basketball Association prior to the league blocking all NBA players from taking their talents to China. At least one enterprising team is still interested in trying to find a loophole for the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star, however.
Shanxi Zhongyu is apparently plotting to sign Bryant for some exhibition games prior to the beginning of the CBA season, according to Sina Sports (via HoopsHype). That seems like a decent opportunity to raise the marketing profile of both Bryant and the Chinese team he'll be playing for, but unfortunately even exhibition games could have raise some issues.
"As China's sports industry is controlled strictly by the government, there are many political and regulatory differences from the United States to be aware of," sports executive Matt Beyer explained to NiuBBall while talking about potential exhibition games featuring NBA players. "While a great idea may sell on its merits in the United States, that may not be the case in China."
The main reason it might not be approved, according to Beyer, is that it doesn't exactly help Chinese basketball get any better.
"China's sports system remains controlled tightly by the government," says Beyer. "The government is focused on breeding its own domestic talents and not simply importing and selling foreign sports entertainment as its political agenda."
The Kobe Bryant to China rumors probably won't ever die, but it seems every time there's a new rumor that pops up, a reason why it won't work does as well. Expect to hear about this again, in some form or fashion, in the not-so-distant future.