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Bryant causes outrage with Turkish Airlines deal

Associated Press Modified: December 16, 2010 at 8:51 am •  Published: December 16, 2010
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant's two-year endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines has enraged some Armenian Americans who are threatening to boycott the Los Angeles Lakers star.

Turkish Airlines says Bryant will appear next year as its "global brand ambassador" in advertisements promoting the March start of nonstop flights between Istanbul and Los Angeles, according to a story Thursday in the Los Angeles Times.

The tension stems from Turkey's denial that about 1.5 million Armenian deaths from 1915-19 constituted genocide. Turkey instead describes the deaths as the result of civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

There are about 700,000 Armenian Americans in California, and Armenian National Committee of America executive director Aram Hamparian tells the Times that many of them are furious over Bryant's deal with Turkey's state carrier.