I’m really weary of the “Kobe Bryant to Turkey” rumors.
Here is what it comes down to: Kobe’s camp sounds hesitant (at best) and say the two sides haven’t really talked much, officials from Besiktas are overly optimistic. That comes through in another report from Turkey, via Slam.
The interview is with Seref Yalcin, the Head of Basketball Operations at Besiktas, and he provides the quote below. One key thing to take away from this is that Besiktas — the team that has Deron Williams already signed — is sitting down with Kobe’s people July 30 to talk Turkey. Literally.
“At the moment there’s a 50% chance that Kobe may come to Turkey. Everything will be clearer after the meeting on the 30th. We have not talked about money, as reported. We only talked about the possibility of Kobe playing in Turkey. We asked FIBA for approval and Kobe wants some time to think about it. We believe that his response is going to be positive. Money will not be a problem. Turkish Airlines, M-Oil and Milan Petrol will sponsor the deal.”
The money is the money — even if they pay him $1 million a month, tax free, it’s a sliver of the $25 million he will make in the NBA next season. This would be about increasing Kobe’s global brand (and making sure he gets a part of the jersey sales). Of course, this would only be if the lockout continued into the season and Kobe would have an opt out to return once the NBA got its act together.
And even then… if what really matters to him is getting another ring, then some time off for his aging knees will help more than actual games in Turkey. But even having this conversation is a good sign for the union as they try to convince the owners their players have other options. And they do, those options are just not as good as the NBA.