Kobe Beats Shaq to Turkey

We couldn’t help but wonder about a revival of the Kobe-Shaq rivalry after learning of Kobe Bryant’s new two-year endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines. Just last week, the GM of that country’s Besiktas team was telling website Hoopnotes.com that Shaquille O’Neal had indicated an interest in following Allen Iverson over next year.

For the moment, Kobe is treading in the footsteps of coach Phil Jackson, who during one of his famous summers of pondering whether or not to return as Lakers coach, trekked across the country. That’s one up on No. 24; despite a flowery quote about Turkey in the release, he tells CNBC he’s never traveled to the country.

Another odd aspect of the deal is that there are currently no direct Turkish Airlines flights from either LAX or Logan Airport. Right now, Kobe would need to connect in Chicago, while Shaq’s possible medical visit trip would require a fly-out from New York.

The closest current LA connection is a mention at the bottom of the Kobe press release about the airline’s Do&Co catering having recently won a SkyTrax World Aviation Award, “the Oscar of the Aviation Industry.” That and previous pitchman Kevin Costner (pictured).

Update – 12/16/10: The large Armenian community of Southern California is reportedly very unhappy with this new Kobe endorsement deal.