You gotta hand it to the Turkish club Besiktas: they're determined to get themselves in the news as much as possible during the NBA lockout. First they signed Deron Williams. Then they had their accounts frozen by Turkish authorities due to a soccer match-fixing scandal. Now they're after Kobe Bryant, and they'll be happy to remind you of that as often as you can tolerate and maybe more.
Yo ESPN, block quote me!
Turkish club Besiktas is in talks with Kobe Bryant's representatives about the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers' star playing in Turkey during the NBA lockout.
"It is a fact that Kobe Bryant's managers have contacted us," coach Ergin Ataman said Thursday, a week after Besiktas signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams. Ataman said Bryant was waiting for an offer from Besiktas. The club, however, said it would need a sponsor to be able to pay for Bryant's contract. "Our board will evaluate that," Ataman said. . . .
According to NTV Spor, Besiktas initially was prepared to offer Bryant a monthly salary of $500,000. But Bryant, according to the report, is seeking a monthly salary of $1 million to join Williams.
Perhaps this is entirely legit and Kobe will soon be scouting the Istanbul condo market, but a few things about this story don't sit quite right with me.
To begin with, 100 percent of the reporting has been sourced in Turkey. We've had numerous statements from Besiktas officials as well as reports from Turkish media outlets (who are presumably drawing their information from Besiktas officials). Why hasn't there been corroboration of these discussions from the United States? The Los Angeles Times, always the most reliable source for Laker news, has done nothing with this story other than to pass along a few of the Besiktas quotes. There have been no statements from Rob Pelinka, Kobe's agent, or from anyone else inside Kobe, Inc. There's been nothing from Ric Bucher, who's always been well placed within Kobe's camp.
Second, if you were Besiktas (pronounced BEH-sheek-TOSH, by the way) and you were really closing in on a Kobe deal, why be so public about it? Doesn't that just encourage other clubs to interject with bids of their own?
And speaking of other clubs, if Kobe is actively shopping himself in Europe, where are the other offers? It's not like Besiktas is the only show in town. True, they've got D Will, but they're far from the richest or most prestigious European club. Given the methodical way Kobe makes decisions, it's hard to believe he's zeroing in on this one team so early in the process - the Turkish season doesn't start until October - to the exclusion of all other overseas options. It would be more like him to take his time to examine all potential employers and find the best situation for himself, all considered.
My guess is, that's what he's actually doing. I'm sure there's been some contact with Besiktas, but I suspect much of this chatter is about Besiktas keeping its name in the headlines and trying to create the impression that it's the destination of choice for NBA stars.
Update (6:45 p.m.): The LAT just posted its first substantive piece about this. There's not a ton of new information in there, but they did speak by phone with yappy Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman. Camp Kobe continues to maintain a conspicuous silence.
"We made our offer to Kobe and now we are waiting for their comments about the situation," Ataman said. "But we didn't talk about details. I think they are thinking now about our offer, and I think in the beginning of August, the first week of August, our president [Yildirim Demiroren] will be in the United States for Deron Williams' press conference and I think that they will meet to sign in USA with Kobe."
Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, didn't return repeated phone calls Thursday to speak about the negotiations Ataman talked about.
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