Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have been bumped from the National Basketball Association playoffs, Kobe Bryant, the team’s star, faces an off-the-court challenge. This winter, Bryant alienated a large segment of the Lakers’ fan base, members of California’s large Diaspora Armenian community, with a decision to endorse Turkish Airlines. Now, some hope Bryant will use the off-season to make amends.
When the season started, many experts believed Bryant and his teammates would be playing the Miami Heat in June for the NBA championship. Now, he can only expect to get more heat from diaspora Armenians. Bryant’s summer vacation began far earlier than expected when his team suffered the ignominy of a 4-0 second-round series sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. The shocking way the Lakers, defending NBA champs, exited the playoffs could end up sharpening the residual resentment that many Armenian fans feel for Bryant.
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Liana Aghajanian is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.