Kobe Bryant Can’t Win For Losing with Endorsements

It has been a long road back to gaining endorsements for Kobe Bryant. After his now infamous trial in Colorado, Bryant took a PR hit that dropped his marketability somewhere between Tom Sizemore and any L.A. Clipper not named Blake Griffin. Slowly but surely as timed passed Bryant began to gain the favor of companies looking to attach their brand to the best baller on the planet.

Ever the center of controversy throughout his playing career, Bryant seems to stir the pot no matter what he does.

Earlier this year Bryant caught the ire of many for donning a sidearm in a commercial for the latest installment of Call of Duty. Now, he’s in the middle of a cultural feud thanks to a new deal with Turkish Airlines.

Bryant is getting plenty of flack from the Armenian public due to his allegiance with Turkish Airlines. Without getting into too much detail, the heart of the matter relates to an on-going quest to have the death of some 1.5-million Armenians at the hands of the Turks recognized as genocide.

Politics aside, any tragedy in which the entire population of the San Fernando Valley is wiped of the face of the Earth is horrific. Some ethnic groups have championed to have similar tragedies recognized and rightfully so. The heart of mankind is truly a dark region where tragedy has become a part of daily existence.

With all that being said, KB24 has no obligation to any group regardless of their undying support for him. The only people Bryant owes anything to are his family, his employer and friends, in that order. I’m not advocating for Kobe to be brashly selfish and ignore social issues but this is a very slippery slope. At what point do we draw the line? How many factors must be considered for something as trivial as an endorsement deal?

Now, had Bryant gone in front of a microphone and flat out denied the Armenian genocide occurred prior to announcing the deal then I’d have a problem. However, the man is just trying to earn a few bucks. I’m sure if you did enough digging you’d find that every company has unsavory ties (Nike anyone?). The basic problem is that there is a large Armenian population here in Los Angeles of which many are Laker fans. Thus you can see the nature of the issue.

For Bryant this is just another chapter in his drama filled career. For many others it represents so much more. For now, I’d just advise Kobe to stay out of Glendale until he does something to show his actions have unintentionally set off another firestorm.

Tags: Blake Griffin Kobe Bryant Tom Sizemore

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  • Zanku Armenian

    So by your logic Chris, if Kobe were to be sponsored by Holocaust deniers then that would be ok?

    In the statement released by Turkish Airlines Dec. 16, they basically denied the genocide when the said “Kobe Bryant is a cultural figure, not a historian, and is in no way related to a sensitive and complex controversy over highly contested history.”

    Let’s test this. Kobe comes out with a statement honoring the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide. I’ll bet you anything you want that Turkish Airlines will cancel the contract. This is the test of what kind of contract Kobe has entered with the devil himself.

    • Chris Shellcroft


      With all due respect. Kobe is endorsing an airline and not a cause. Like I said, if he straight out said he was supporting the Turkish beliefs that would be one thing. but if he endorsed BMW its not like he’s supporting the holocaust either.

      Catch my drift?

      I appreciate that this is a very serious and sensitive subject. Respect due to all those that have suffered due to incidents of the past. Not overlooking that at all.

      My point is if we start down this path then all athletes will be unable to turn a profit off the court. where do you draw the line?

      Kobe is not supporting anything negative unless you think the airline itself is somehow part of the issue. If it were Korean Air we wouldn’t even trip. Just saying that you can’t connect Kobe to anything other than an airline and a paycheck. That’s it.

      • Zanku Armenian

        Appreciate your sensitivity on this Chris but please read my previous post again. Turkish Airlines is denying the genocide in the statement they released on Dec. 16. So Kobe’s endorsement of them is inappropriate and outrageous. Just because someone is an athelete doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held to some principles. And Kobe isn’t desparate for income, he’s the highest paid NBA athelete.

  • Kevo

    Chris, Kobe is endorsing an airline that is owned and operated by the Turkish government.
    This Government is not only responsible for the denial of the Armenian Genocide, but also the Darfur Genocide. This is the same regime that has protected the assassin who murdered a prominent Turkish Armenian publisher Hrant Dink. Dink was murdered in broad daylight in front of many witnesses. His assassin is now a national hero. Don’t you get it Chris the Turkish flag to an Armenian is the equivalent to a Nazi flag to a Jew. The difference is Germany paid for there crime and continues to pay. Armenians came to this land to escape total annihilation, and we cannot even get the history of our grandparents recognized by our adopted country because of threats by Turkey. We have had enough! There are Turks who play in the NBA, why have the Turks chosen Kobe, why not these talented Turk ballers? LA has the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia, choosing Kobe is no coincidence. Killing to birds….

    • Chris Shellcroft


      I’m fully aware of the Armenian community here in L.A. in case you didn’t catch my Glendale drop at the end of the piece.

      I fully respect and understand what the Turkish flag represents to any person of Armenian descent as well. My point is that Kobe is not supporting the cause of the Turks in any way. all I’m saying is that you cannot connect him to anything other than a check.

      And why didn’t they approach other Turkish players in the NBA? Well, I’m not so sure that Hedo Turkglou or Mehmet Okur have the same global image as KB24.

      Again, I mean no disrespect in any way. I fully appreciate and recoginze this issue. However, in the business world there are no morals. Sad but true. This is a bottom line decision by Kobe and his people. It’s all bout cash and not cause.

  • Kevo

    If Kobe signs a deal with the Turkish airlines owned and operated by the Turkish government, then Kobe is a spokesman for the Turkish government. Honestly If Kobe held a press conference and said he recognized the Armenian Genocide…. then I say go ahead Turkey pay the man, no problem. However the Turks would drop Kobe as a spokesman without hesitation. As unprecedented and unusual as it would be I put it to Kobe Bryant to address his loyal Armenian fans, and inject some morals into this situation and recognize the Armenian Genocide then see how these foolish Turks would react. Denying the Armenian Genocide is criminal and a continuation of genocide. Step up Kobe!

    • Chris Shellcroft

      I can’t disagree that it would be refreshing to see an athlete like Kobe take a political stand. Sad truth is that in this day and age athletes aren’t willing to do that kind of thing as it hits their wallet. Just proves again why cats like Muhammad Ali were so special.

      I feel where you’re coong from for sure. And I’ll even say that overall KB24 and his folks make some questionable calls when it comes to how he lends his image. Again, I think on his end its just a money move. Maybe if someone from the communtiy got to him and let him know but otherwise I doubt Kobe fully understands the alliance he’s forged.

  • Kevo

    I greatly appreciate your understanding, as well as agree that it is a “money move” by Kobe. I find it ironic that Kobe has lost so much because of his past mistakes and is now being paid by a criminal regime that cannot escape the shadow of its own criminal history. The fact remains that Armenians where ever they may reside on this planet will never give up this fight. NEVER!
    Los Angeles is our home and the Lakers are our team but the injustices of the past continue to haunt our community and this is no exception. Believe me this is not something we enjoy, but it is something at this point that cannot be avoided. Only Kobe can fix this now.
    Kharpertsi Kevo