Ergin Ataman, the coach of the Turkish team Besiktas (which recently signed Deron Williams) knows marketing.
Which means he knows Kobe Bryant is the most popular NBA player internationally, so if you want to generate some heat, talk about him. Reality of the situation be damned. Which is what he did when D-Will was signed, and what he did again today.
“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.
Besiktas has a few other little issues to sort out besides finding a sponsor for Kobe. Okay, maybe not so little. For one, how much he would be paid — reports are Besiktas wanted to pay him $450,000 a month but Kobe wanted $1 million (which would still be a steep cut from his NBA salary). So Besiktas is looking for a sponsor. The team also lost its main sponsor, a Turkish cola company, and is reportedly trying to find a replacement.
Which will be hard to find as Besiktas had its assets frozen due to a match-fixing scandal on the soccer side. While this serious soccer situation does not directly tie to the basketball side, it’s not exactly making major sponsors jump on board with the organization.
Besiktas already has had a reputation as not paying its players, with some missing practices last season when paychecks were late. Not Allen Iverson’s (he played for Besiktas last year), his checks were fine. Just don’t ask the other players on the team about theirs.
But sure, go ahead and think Kobe is about to sign there if you want. It’s good marketing by Ataman.