It was Sunday near noon. News flashes on every channel. A helicopter has crashed near Los Angeles. Nine are aboard; no survivors. Among the dead is basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
Television coverage for the rest of the day focused on the accident, plus the life and career of Bryant. We heard about all of his accomplishments. That's understandable because Kobe was one of the greatest players in NBA history. We heard about his life as a husband and father of four daughters. We heard about his post-basketball life as a member of the media and his 2019 Academy Award. We heard about his commitment to women's sports, including coaching his daughter's travel basketball team. Only once did I hear the 2003 rape accusation in Colorado mentioned and that was in passing along with his accomplishments.
Sunday was too soon.
Monday comes and the world is still in shock. We're still hearing about all of Bryant's accolades. We're hearing from his teammates and competitors. They're in pain at his loss. It's only been one day. The rawness of their grief is visible. It's painful to see. While there is a little more talk about what happened in 2003, it's not much and it's still only in passing. And when it's brought up, you see comments like this one from Facebook:
ESPN TO AIR KOBE BRYANT'S FINAL GAME.
R: I feel sorry the woman he raped to see him heralded as a saint everywhere.
M: The woman dropped the rape charge.
T: He paid her off.
M: I know that. I'm pissed that the comment was made at a time where his family and the world is mourning Kobe's loss. I feel sorry for your incredible insensitivity.
Monday was too soon.
If you've forgotten or don't know about what occurred in Colorado, sixteen years ago, Bryant was accused of rape by a nineteen year old woman. He admitted to have a sexual encounter with her, but said it was consensual. He was charged with rape, but the case was dismissed because his accuser was unwilling to testify. She did file a civil lawsuit, but it was settled before it could go to court. While the settlement amount was not revealed, it was estimated at more than $2.5 million.
Kobe Bryant moved ahead in his basketball career and his life. Money, fame and privilege pays off. So did timing. In 2003, we didn't have social media. No Facebook. No Twitter. Can you imagine how dark the Twitter feeds would have been had this occurred in the latter years of his career? We also didn't have amount of 24/7/365 news and sports outlets that we do now. Yes, there was plenty of media coverage, but nothing like it be like today.
We also weren't as woke in 2003 as we are now. When Wilt Chamberlain said he had sex with more than 10,000 women, instead of being outraged, we laughed and did the math to see if it was actually possible. When Shawn Kemp admitted to having seven children with six women, we shook out heads and smirked. With Kobe, for a lot of people, it was just another athlete and that's what their sex life is like.
No one is shaking their heads or laughing in 2020. Athletes in every sport have been suspended because of their treatment/abuse of women. The penalties have been harsh, although many say not harsh enough. Kobe certainly would have been suspended and absolutely not allowed to play games while going back and forth to Colorado for court hearings.
It's now Tuesday morning. The world is still in shock at the loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others. The sudden deaths of nine people in the prime of their lives, including three children, has shaken everyone to their core. Lots of people hugging their loved ones. Kobe's family and the Lakers still have not commented. The Lakers-Clippers basketball game that was scheduled for tonight has been postponed. Getting back to normal is still a ways off....a long ways off.
It's not likely we're going to hear about the 2003 incident or any of Kobe Bryant's flaws today.
Tuesday will be too soon.
What Kobe Bryant was accused of was horrendous. But, it's as much a part of his legacy as his five championships. That part of his story needs to be heard. At some point, I imagine we will. I just don't know when. When will it not be too soon?
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