Los Angeles Lakers

Why does Kobe Bryant continue to get the “Michael Jackson” treatment?

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Kobe Bryant

While the Lakers continue to search for an identity in the post Kobe era, Monday night the team honored one of the greatest players to ever stop foot onto a basketball court. Maybe ever.

That’s when Los Angeles raised the No. 8 and No. 24 to the rafters of the Staples Center marking the first time in NBA history that a player actually had two numbers retired by their respective team.

And who deserved it more than Kobe Bryant, from a basketball perspective at least?

The guy’s laundry list of accomplishments is incredible to say the absolute very least.

In his 20 years with the Lakers, Bryant is a five-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, an NBA MVP, 18-time All-Star, four-time All-Star MVP, two-time scoring champion, nine-time NBA defensive first team and that’s just scratching the surface.

Not to mention, he may be the most clutch player the game of basketball has ever seen.

Oh yeah, Kobe may also be a rapist as well.

What’s sad is those aforementioned accolades tend to have everyone forget about that pesky 2003 sexual assault allegation against Bryant. It was then a 19-year-old hotel worker accused the future hall-of-famer of raping her in his hotel room the night before he was scheduled to have surgery in Colorado.

And yes, Bryant was eventually able to overcome the criminal charges against him but not because he was found innocent. Kobe was in part able to able to walk free because his accuser refused to testify against him during the trial which in turn handcuffed (no pun) prosecutors.

That decision though didn’t come because of a lack of evidence against Bryant. Lets not have it go over our heads Kobe originally denied having any kind of sexual encounter with the 19-year-old before admitting to just that after a physical exam of the woman found that a sexual encounter did indeed take place. Additionally there was bruising around the woman’s neck, which Kobe admitted to strangling her during the encounter – but that it was consensual – and that he believed she was capable of saying no because she allegedly turned him down when he wanted to “cum in her face”.

This was all on top of the other evidence against the NBA star:

Now it shouldn’t go without mention that there was evidence to go the other way in the case. Namely instances that enabled the defense to question the accusers account which could be summed up a letter to state investigator Gerry Sandberg clarifying some details of her first interview by Colorado police. Within the letter the accuser stated,  “I told Detective Winters that on that morning while leaving I had car troubles. That was not true. When I called in late to work that day that was the reason I gave my boss for being late. In all reality, I had simply overslept…I told Detective Winters that Mr. Bryant had made me stay in the room and wash my face. While I was held against my will in that room, I was not forced to wash my face. I did not wash my face. Instead I stopped at the mirror by the elevator on that floor to clean my face up. I am extremely disappointed in myself and also very sorry to anyone misled by that mix-up of information. I said what I said because I felt that Detective Winters did not believe what had happened to me.”

However the criminal case being thrown out wasn’t the end of Bryant’s legal trouble when it came to what happened in that Colorado hotel room. The 19-year-old was successful in a civil suit against the Lakers star as the two sides settled on an undisclosed amount in addition to a public apology by Bryant.

First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colo.

I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. 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. 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.

I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.

Obviously questions regarding what did and didn’t happen back in 2003 are going to continue to linger.

I think… because given the way Kobe’s career lacked any ill effect and based on the pomp and circumstance Monday night those sexual allegation questions are hardly lingering. Which is in some ways kind of surprising given the #MeToo movement. But then again, this country has time and time again shown an incredibly sick devotion to sports figures despite perhaps some of the most damning accusations against them.

Regardless though of Kobe walking free in the end of any guilty verdict can we at least not act like the guy didn’t at one time face some pretty serious sexual assault charges? And that the benefit of the doubt shouldn’t be enough to wipe away the accusers account of what happened back in 2003?

About Adam Hernandez

Adam Hernandez is the founder The Majors Sports Network.

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