I am not a Laker fan. I like basketball well enough. I actually prefer college ball to professional. But Los Angeles is definitely a Laker kind of town. It is the sport that dominates here. Some towns are football towns and others baseball towns. But Los Angeles is a Laker town.
But after Kobe’s sexual assault case in 2003 I was turned off to the Lakers and to Kobe Bryant. Although the criminal case was dropped there was a civil suit. I don’t know what went on. Kobe admitted no guilt. But did supposedly apologize to the victim. People do make mistakes. But I didn’t have to support the glorification of one who assaulted women. Kobe never addressed the public with his own growth. He just kept playing ball. While the contracts grew.
And then his “slip” of the tongue on the court the other night–using an inappropriate epithet screamed at a ref who called a technical foul. He was immediately slapped with 100k fine by NBA Commissioner David Stern. And Kobe apologized. Well sort of… He said he “regrets” his choice of words but didn’t come out with a particularly strong repudiation. He evidently talked to Joe Solomonese of HRC and apologized to him. But only after there was an explosion of outrage on Twitter!
But a public statement reminding us all to think before we speak should have also been the advice. Kobe’s example to young people on basketball courts all over the world speaks volumes. Young people want to imagine they are Kobe Bryant. And with a mild apology of “regret” for calling the ref a f***** f****** doesn’t help short circuit this kind of behavior. Using gay derogatory terms is everywhere on a basketball court. This could have been a teaching moment.
This is my real problem with Kobe. He doesn’t really take responsibility for his actions. He doesn’t seem to be aware of the influence he could have in the world and actually does. He simply says he was frustrated on the court and so he swore at the ref using a degrading term. Where is the leadership?
That is a shame. And his behavior is shameful. And yes, it reflects on the whole Laker organization.