• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Turkish says Kobe 'not a political statement'

Kobe Bryant's sponsorship with Turkish Airlines has many Armenian Americans outraged.

December 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Turkish Airlines is speaking out about its controversial endorsement deal with Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.The airline said Bryant has nothing to do with Turkey's political situation.

Many in Los Angeles' large Armenian community want Bryant to dump the deal because Turkey refuses to recognize the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-19 by the Ottoman Turks as genocide.

In a statement, Turkish Airlines said, "Kobe Bryant is a cultural figure, not a historian, and is in no way related to a sensitive and complex controversy over highly contested history. The relationship between Kobe and Turkish Airlines is a business endorsement partnership, not a political statement."