Kobe Bryant: Will Bryant Really Join Deron Williams in Turkey?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJuly 23, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the second quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Turkish club Besitkas signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams last week and, according to reports, it may only be a matter of time before Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant joins Williams in Turkey.

NBA.com reported that Besitkas has been in serious discussions with Bryant's managers and the only real thing holding up a deal is finding sponsors so the club can pay what is sure to be a hefty amount for Bryant's services.

Bryant's flirtation with Turkey should be a clear signal that the current NBA lockout could jeopardize the upcoming NBA season, and if more players decide to make the leap overseas the league may never be the same again.

Bryant has considered playing overseas before, and international rules may make a leap to Turkey an easy decision for Bryant.

The three-point line is closer, teams are allowed to play more zone defense and a slower pace could help an aging star like Bryant.

Not to mention that Bryant is arguably the most popular NBA player outside of America's borders.

Basketball fans overseas do not have the same tendency as Americans to let their personal feelings about a player shape their opinions of him on the court, and that is certainly something that Bryant would appreciate.

Bryant may be popular in the U.S., but in other countries he is treated as a true rock star.

So I can see the appeal of playing overseas for Bryant, but what should be scary for NBA fans in general (and Lakers fans in particular) is the chance that NBA stars will enjoy their overseas assignments.

It is generally assumed that, once the lockout ends, players will be eager to return to the States, but it is rumored that this lockout is much more complicated than the work stoppage in 1999, and potentially more damaging.

There is a real chance that some or all of the regular season could be cancelled, and the divisions between the owners and the players are much deeper than in 1999.

I still have faith that both the owners and the players will eventually come to the realization that their billion-dollar squabble is alienating legions of fans, and if the season is cancelled some of them may never return.

Unfortunately, there are eager, basketball-hungry fans overseas waiting to benefit from the NBA's labor woes, and if Bryant does join Williams in Turkey it could open the flood-gates to a change that will alter the NBA landscape forever.