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Kobe Bryant could still play in China, however unofficially

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Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant can't play in the Chinese Basketball Association this season, whether the NBA's lockout of its players extends for the rest of this week or the rest of Barack Obama's administration (second term, or not).

The CBA does not want NBA players who are under contract, no matter how accomplished they are, if there's a chance that they'll leave should the lockout end during the CBA season. According to HoopsHype.com, that hasn't stopped Shanxi Zhongyu from attempting to sign Bryant for some exhibition work, or perhaps a simple jaunt through the layup line in warmups.

[Related: Five players who should take their acts overseas]

That's right. Shanxi Zhongyu wants to sign Kobe for strictly show-off purposes. Bryant would not be eligible to play in games that count, but he could take part in pregame drills, show off for fans, work up a nice sweat in exhibitions. Circumvent the Chinese Basketball Association legalities all you want, you're still going to get a basketball-obsessed stud in Kobe. And it's all legal.

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Last week the CBA passed a law created to stop NBA players who were under contract for the 2011-12 season from working with CBA teams. The NBA may have put pressure on the CBA braintrust, and we wouldn't blame them for that; we also wouldn't blame CBA executives for asking their teams not to put the league in a compromising position by marketing American stars that may not be around for an entire season.

What's the way around that? Potentially, you pay the heck out of someone like Kobe Bryant (with, possibly, a certain shoe company's help) to show up and play in your exhibition season. Or, even more tactlessly, practice with your group in full view of cameras with someone like Kobe Bean Bryant amongst the 10 players sprinting back and forth. With the logo showing. And a smile on Kobe's face. After all, it's the best of Kobe's worlds. The man is a basketball junkie, he misses playing, and he'll be making money for an actual basketball team while keeping his mates at his shoe endorser happy.

On top of that, wouldn't the Chinese Basketball Association team benefit from his presence at a practice? Who loses here?

Besides competing shoe companies, of course.

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