First, he came back from an Achilles injury he suffered near the end of last season before Christmas – only to get hurt again with a knee injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. The experts – and haters – all said that Bryant came back WAY too soon from his Achilles injury. Some of those same haters thought that Bryant wanted to stay relevant – which I thought was ridiculous.
Second, when he signed 2-year $48.5 million ridiculous extension, Bryant was criticized left and right for hamstringing the Lakers’ salary cap for the next few seasons. It will be harder for the Lakers to bring in more than one superstar a la the Miami Heat and be salary cap compliant. Hell, even I gave my two cents on the matter.
And last – but not least – Bryant gave perhaps the controversial quote of the year. When asked by a reporter from The New Yorker about the Miami Heat’s hoodie photo in support of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old kid who was gunned down by a wannabe vigilante/neighborhood watchman, this was what Bryant had to say:
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American. That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”
Let’s examine Bryant’s comments.
First of all, I understand Kobe’s sentiments. Kobe’s thoughts were aimed at fellow black people. Too many of us label our own “Uncle Toms” for not going along with our way of thinking.
For example, when Mike Vick got busted for dog-fighting, a lot of black folks thought that dog fighting was not such a big deal and Vick should not have been thrown in jail. The problem with that thought is dog fighting is not only a crime, it became a federal felony when he and his crew crossed state lines while orchestrating the dog fighting. During ESPN’s Town Hall in Atlanta, many black folks in the audience showed their asses and booed Bryan Burwell (a black sportswriter) who had the nerve to disagree in saying Vick should do his time.
I also feel that just because some issues pertain to Black America, it doesn’t mean we all as Black Americans have to react a certain way. Here are some good examples: Tawana Brawley and the Duke lacrosse case. Look it up – Google it.
I live by what my dad used to say: black people are not sheep.
However, I think Kobe used a bad example in the case of Martin’s murder. Even though the prosecution failed to convince a jury beyond the reasonable doubt of George Zimmerman’s guilt, I believe that the young brother was racially profiled and led to him being murdered. In making those statements, Kobe appeared out of touch – and frankly condescending – with folks in the African American community.
A lot of Black folks are coming out in droves against Kobe. A had the pleasure of conducting a podcast with Lawrence Watkins (younger brother of the great activist Dr. Boyce Watkins), founder of the Great Black Speakers series. He called Kobe one of the “safe negroes” for those comments.
I think that is a case of the sentiment being there, but the execution being piss-poor at best.