Turkish Airlines had just barely announced its deal with Lakers stud Kobe Bryant yesterday, when the massive Armenian population in SoCal came out in full force.
The Armenian Youth Federation reported being "bombarded with phone calls from concerned Armenian youth asking for a call to action."
We're not sure how much the airline offered its sexy new spokesman, but considering his $30.5 million annual salary...
... it had to be a ridiculous hunk o' dough. We're mad about the Armenian thing and all that, but mostly just dumbfounded a random foreign airline had that kind of bling to drop on Bryant.
The company quoted him as saying:
"I'm so proud to be chosen as a global brand ambassador for Turkish Airlines. They have been providing travelers with excellent service for 77 years ... Turkey is a country rich in natural beauty and thousands of years of cultural history, and I'm proud to partner with Turkish Airlines to bring that majesty to people around the world."
"Bring that majesty?" Since when do L.A. ballers talk like Eastern businessmen? Needless to say, we're pretty sure Bryant's heartfelt speech was written by someone from Turkish airlines.
Anyway, the AYF doesn't think quite as highly of Bryant's "majestic" new home away from home; to this day, it points out, Turkey continues to deny the Armenian Genocide. From the indignant article on their website:
"The decision has caused uproar within the Armenian-American community in the United States and especially within Southern California, which boasts the largest population of Armenians outside of Armenia. As victims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915-1923, Armenians are angered that Bryant would sign a contract with a country that denies justice to the victims."
Org leaders then figure that hey, while they've got his attention, they might as well make him their own "global ambassador":
"The AYF urges Kobe Bryant to stay true to his loyal fan base and rescind his contract with Turkish Airlines. The AYF further asks Bryant to put out an official statement affirming his commitment to ending human rights abuses and voicing his support for House Resolution 252, calling on the United States Congress to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide."
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That's kind of a lot to ask from the world's busiest baller, no? Not even Obama came through on that one.
Still, for the sake of peace in Glendale, we hope Bryant thinks of something equally comfy and press-releasey to say about Armenia and his doting fan base.
"Ninety-five percent, if not 100 percent, of [SoCal Armenians] are all Laker fans, and he should know that, he should know better than to put his money before his morality," AYF officer Artek Santikian told CBS Los Angeles.
Know who else is Armenian? Lakers teammate Lamar Odom's wife, Khloe Kardashian, and her hot-ass sister. So much for Bryant's shot at a Kardashian fling. At least his wife is smirking.