Kobe Bryant: Lakers Star Must Remain Stateside to Fight for the NBA's Future

Tom KinslowFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2011

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 14:  NBA player Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers participates in an teaching session for South Korean fans during a promotional tour of South Korea at the Korea University on July 14, 2011 in Seoul, South Korea.  (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

As the NBA devolves into a public spat over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the last thing Kobe Bryant should do is go overseas to play basketball.

Since the lockout started, there have been talks of Bryant joining Deron Williams in Turkey, which has has fans buzzing at the thought of one of the NBA's best players suiting up in anything other than a Lakers uniform.

The former MVP hasn't shot down the idea, but if he were to go it would be a crippling blow to the players, who are trying to fight back against the advances of the owners.

As the biggest worldwide star in basketball, Bryant owes it to himself, his fellow players and the league to ensure that the owners and players don't eat each other alive in this war to end all wars.

It may be amusing to think about Bryant and Williams teaming up in Turkey, but the reality is that there are more important things than playing ball overseas.

If Bryant were to cross the Atlantic, it leaves the players without one of the biggest faces in the history of the sport, weakening their stance.

The Lakers legend needs to be a spokesman for the union, not a circus act for a Turkish club whose claim to fame is signing a washed-up Allen Iverson.

Leaving the players behind in their time of need would be a slap in the face to the union and especially the fans, who are craving more basketball following one of the most compelling seasons in NBA history.

How could Bryant possibly be a factor in these negotiations if he's playing basketball in Turkey?

The answer is simple—he can't.

Some may think that stars jumping ship gives the players leverage over the owners, but the reality is the exact opposite.

If the union is losing their biggest faces to overseas leagues, then who is going to help get the message out to the fans?

Bryant has to be at the forefront of these negotiations, and the financial issues that have stalled a move to Turkey should be seen as a godsend.

He may have ties to Europe, but Bryant's heart and soul belongs stateside, where he will fight the most important battle of his life.

If a legend like Bryant doesn't do what it takes to ensure the well-being of the game that made him a millionaire, celebrity and icon, it's a stunning statement on his character.

The NBA star has to have to heart and fortitude to be a guiding force to lead the league into a new era.

It is his destiny, and now is no time to turn tail and head for Turkey.