Reason #178 why the NBA lockout appears almost certain to doom the 2011-12 NBA season: Kobe Bryant is reported to be in talks with a club whose bank accounts have been frozen due to a match-fixing scandal.
To be fair, said scandal does not involve Turkish basketball club Besiktas but instead relates to the soccer club bearing the same name. None the less, KB24’s management is said to be in discussions with the Turkish team.
ESPN cites Ergin Ataman, head coach of the Besiktas ball club, stating that Bryant’s management has contacted him in hopes of opening a negotiating dialog. ESPN also claims Bryant is looking for a healthy $1-million per month to take his talents to Turkey whereas Besiktas is only offering half of the asking price.
Maybe this is all posturing by the Bryant camp. For all we know he could have no desire to join D-Will in Istanbul. None the less, if the price is right there is little doubt he’d go should the lockout threaten the NBA season.
The ESPN report claims the club is looking for sponsorship in wake of the scandal in order to secure the funds necessary to pursue NBA talent. While there is no connection to the Turkish basketball league as it relates to the match-fixing fiasco it does say quite a bit that Bryant is not concerned.
David Stern, you have a serious problem.
While NBA owners are claiming broke, Besiktas is going for broke.
This overseas trend is not a fad. It is a harsh reality Stern doesn’t want to face. If Kobe has no qualms about risking injury and losing cash while playing for a club that currently has no access to its own capital then where will other player with lesser profiles draw the line?
I’m not saying the NBA is at risk of being a forgotten league but there is no doubt it’s on the precipice of being a massively restructured league. Bryant’s flirtations with Besiktas are symptoms of a broken down system. Perhaps Bryant will never play a single second of Turkish hoops. But that hardly matters. The fact that he’s even allowing himself to be seen as a potential NBA defector speaks volumes.