Kobe Bryant has announced that the 2015-16 season will be his final one as a player in the NBA. He had one hell of a career and will be missed by many who enjoyed watching him play the game of basketball at its highest level. Lakers fans are left to wonder who their next franchise legend will be. Those of us with long enough memories will remember that Kobe's legacy includes not only on court heroics, but also some off the court debauchery that threatened to stop his candidacy for Greatest Of All Time in its tracks. Ultimately he didn't let the disgrace get in his way of having a Hall of Fame caliber career. Avoiding a criminal case and meeting the right price in a settlement case probably has a lot to do with that. I have no doubt that by some people he remains unforgiven. That's his cross to bear. But whoever's job it is to judge him, it for sure isn't mine.
Below is what I had to say (some of it dated, some of it timeless) about Kobe's extracurricular activities and what there was to learn from it back in 2003.
In the Summer of 2003, high profile athletes have been adept at getting themselves into trouble away from the workplace. About every other week or so, a story breaks about some player who has earned the spotlight’s glare for something other than the sports heroics expected of him. The usual suspects have had their fair share of mention for customary behavior, such as Mike Tyson getting into yet another out-of-ring altercation. When we see Mike’s mug shot on the evening news, we scarcely take notice anymore. Nor are we especially surprised to learn of various NBA/NFL/MLB players getting arrested over a variety of infractions that we know will cost them little more than pocket change and community service. But on top of the same old same old, a few athletes have managed to earn the type of media attention not seen since O.J. was trying to make that glove fit before a televised audience.
tailback Maurice Clarett snagged a few headlines that otherwise may have gone
to NFL preseason action and NBA offseason trades. By far the most grave sports
story of this Summer was the murder of Baylor basketball player Patrick
Dennehy, and the subsequent arrest of his teammate Carlton Dotson. But the
story to capture the most national attention, due in no small part to the fame
of its leading man, has been the arrest of Kobe Bryant for his alleged rape of
a hotel employee in Ohio State . Eagle County,
Rather than guessing what happened on that fateful night when
1) Image is neither everything nor nothing. Rather, it is an intangible element that can be carefully crafted over time to make someone very popular and wealthy, and that can be demolished overnight.
2) Boys will be boys, most especially when they are pampered and praised like royalty. Regardless of how squeaky-clean
3) Even when a husband’s infidelity becomes back and front page news (not to mention a popular water cooler and internet chat topic), a good woman will forgive her man, provided that he can afford four million dollar apology jewelry.
4) Michael Jordan is still without peer when it comes to marketing himself as the most beloved and admired athlete of all time. Like Mike,
5) In remarking that Kobe Bryant's legal problems are good for NBA business, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban illustrated that you can always count on him to say something that will piss off Commissioner Stern.
6) I’m having some fun with this article, but if in fact
7) There actually are celebrity relationships to talk about other than Ben and J-Lo.
8) Mismatches are boring. When combatants do battle, what onlookers want most is a fair fight. By obtaining the likes of Payton and Malone for next season without even having to break their bank, the Lakers made themselves (at least on paper) a man amongst boys in the NBA. The distraction of Kobe Bryant’s legal problems may serve to make LA a little vulnerable after all. Parity is much more entertaining than slaughter.
9) There's always somebody willing to toss in the race card as soon as an opportunity arises to deal it.
10) "He-said, she-said" is an awful game that's no fun for anybody. No wonder Playstation never patented a computerized version of it.
11) Apparently Magic Johnson did not corner the market on Lakers superstars who engage in high risk sex.
12) Winning a Teen Choice award for most popular athlete does not grant one immunity from criminal prosecution.