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Is Bryant’s Legacy Controversial?

Written by Staff Writer Ro’aa Alkhawaja

Gayle King [left] and Lisa Leslie [right]|Photo Courtesy of Black Enterprise

CBS reporter Gayle King is currently under fire for comments made regarding NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape case in an interview with friend of Bryant and former WNBA player, Lisa Leslie.

Kobe Bryant, father of five and husband of Vanessa Laine Bryant, died January 26th in a helicopter crash that also took the life of  thirteen year old Gianna Bryant and nine others. Bryant’s death was so tragic for people everywhere, including celebrities and former teammates. Bryant gained his seemingly untouchable reputation through his unmatched skill and charm,  and extreme dedication to be the best. 

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, watch an NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks|Photo Courtesy of Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

This widespread love for the four time All Star MVP, is the reason King’s questions were so problematic. 

“Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?” King said.

Leslie, as a close friend of Bryant’s, didn’t view Bryant’s legacy as controversial or convoluted per se.

“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie said. “I just never have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way.”

King at that point followed up by inquiring as to whether it’s “even a fair question to talk about” the charges, “considering he’s no longer with us and that it was resolved” or is it “really part of his history.” 

Kobe Bryant and wife, Vanessa Bryant, during the legal case|Photo Courtesy of The Rolling Stones

These questions are unwarranted because under the current circumstances. They cannot provide much closure  considering Bryant cannot face any legal punishment or societal scolding for his alleged actions. The sexual assault trial King was referring to was a civil case back in  2003, in which a front-desk clerk at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in the Rocky Mountains town of Edwards, Colorado, accused Bryant of raping her in his hotel room.

Bryant, 24 at the time, was charged with one count of felony assault. It took 14 months for the criminal case to be resolved. According to the Los Angeles Times, the accuser had a medical examination that eventually became problematic because DNA evidence suggested she had engaged in intercourse with someone else in the 15 hours after the alleged rape and before the exam. The accuser decided she would not testify, and prosecutors dropped the case on Sept. 1, 2004. The allegations never resulted in a trial, but managed to gain universal attention. 

Since the woman refused to testify, the case was closed and Bryant issued the following civil statement the day after the case was dismissed. 

“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” Bryant said. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

It is important to note that the revitalization of this story was not brought forward by  the woman who accused Bryant of raping her. It was instead discussed by publicity outlets following Bryant’s death. Due to this, it is not conducive to bring this case to light after it has already been legally and personally dismissed.

Vanessa Bryant greiving the loss of her husband and daughter at the Celebration of Life event|Photo Courtesy of Clutchpoints

Following the year 2004, Bryant worked tirelessly to rebuild his reputation by putting more effort into maintaining his family and work life than he previously did. Bryant  formally apologized and handled the accusations with courtesy and admiration for everyone involved, recognizing that there was more to his act of adultery than he had known.

Just as Leslie put it, it’s not fair to bring the case up when there were endless opportunities to discuss it when Bryant was alive. Now that no legal action can be taken, hanging it over his legacy could only result in adding  to the public shaming burden of Bryant’s family and public outcry. 

Upon the release of the controversial interview, King took to Instagram to reply to the incident.

Gayle King discussing the interview on her instagram|Photo Courtesy of Youtube

“If I had only seen the clip that you saw, I would be extremely angry with me too,” King said. “I am mortified, I am embarrassed, and I am very angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview, totally taken out of context, and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring.”

In this reply, it becomes evident that to a degree, King agrees that it’s rather inappropriate to exclusively mention objectionable fragments of the legacy of a person who has passed away. 

“My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all time is gone. It’s hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players,” retired professional basketball player Magic Johnson tweeted. 

Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson|Photo Courtesy of Fox News

Bryant’s death emotionally affected millions, which is why there was an intense uproar following Gayle King’s controversial interview. 

Now that Bryant is no longer alive, no good would come out of continually discussing his rape allegations. It’s imperative for the media and everyone else to understand that the accuser couldn’t possibly gain anything from it, and neither would his grieving family. 

About Chloe Johnston

Chloe Johnston
Chloe Johnston is a junior and the Opinions Editor of the MC Sun.

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