by Kurt Helin

Dec 16 2010

Turkish Airlines is going to start non-stop service from Los Angeles
to Istanbul next March, and they wanted to raise their profile in
America and abroad with an international star as an endorser.

Meet Kobe Bryant. He's big worldwide and pretty much the king of Los
Angeles, so the two sides inked an endorsement deal. Kobe will appear
in a promotional film for the airline, make visits to Turkey and get
paid for the use of his image to promote the primary airline of Turkey.

Which has enraged the sizeable Armenian community in Los Angeles
(maybe half a million people). They have promised protests and maybe
a boycott.

The Turkish/Armenian feud date back to World War I and the final
days of the struggling Ottoman Empire. This is a basketball blog,
we're not going to play politics here. The Armenian community and
most scholars called what happened over a three-year period when
hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed a genocide; Turkey
has always vehemently protested that label saying civil strife at
the time caused deaths on both sides.

Armenians in Southern California are angry about Kobe's endorsement
and want him to drop it, as the Turkish Journal details.

"Armenian-Americans hope that Kobe would balance what clearly looks
to be a profitable business deal with a strong moral statement against
Turkey's violations of human rights, including, of course, its ongoing
denial of the Armenian Genocide," the Armenian Youth Federation said
in a statement on its website.

Bryant should drop the endorsement or back the resolution (in the
House of Representatives recognizing what happened as a genocide),
Hamparian said. "This is not simply a private firm," he said. "This
is a firm that's majority owned by the Turkish government."

This is not going away in Los Angeles - the local Fox affiliate had
it as part of their newscast last night including reactions from
local Armenians. Maybe the most famous local Armenian family are the
Kardashians - as in Khloe, Lamar Odom's wife.

There could be more protests. It could get loud and it will be
interesting to see how Kobe Bryant handles this.

From: A. Papazian