A Hater’s Rant: How The Hell Is Kobe Still Getting Away With His Jedi Mind Tricks?
Kobe Bryant was an incredible basketball player and an all-time NBA great, and he will remain an American sports icon until the end of time. But Bryant's greatest achievement of all might actually be mind control. There may never be another athlete in professional sports so adept at exerting his will upon others and then convincing them it was their idea.
He's like a very tall, unlikable, multilingual Yoda.
For example: did we all really think that Kobe was the greatest of the late-game, stone-cold killers, or did he brainwash us into believing that by anointing himself the "Black Mamba?" How did he get away with giving himself that nickname nearly 11 years into his career?
Then he pulled off the great con of ending his NBA career portrayed as a gritty, basketball-obsessed veteran who just couldn't give up the game he loved. In reality he was just a worn down bench player that bilked the Lakers for $30 million a year, stalled their rebuilding process and contributed to the two worst seasons in the franchise's history.
There's also the small (gigantic) matter of him admitting to cheating on his wife multiple times, including with a 19-year-old hotel employee to whom he publicly apologized and with whom he admittedly did not fully clarify consent.
But he bought his wife that infamous 8-carat purple diamond and they are still together to this day, so could he really have been that bad of a guy?
Oh I don't know, you tell me. Here are the main quotes from his 2004 televised mea culpa:
"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."
Twelve years ago the discussion about rape and rape culture - particularly in sports - was almost nonexistent. So at the time, this statement didn't read the way it does today. Now we know that this is about as close to a public admission of rape as we're ever going to get from a superstar the likes of Kobe Bryant. He admitted that a sexual encounter occurred and then clarified that he didn't question her motivation and that she was not extorting him.
He basically spelled out for us the fact that there was never a full understanding of consent from a teenage girl who was alone in a hotel room with a 6'6", 24-year-old married man; a man that also happened to be one of the most famous people on the planet. Even without the rape allegations, that's some seriously scumbag behavior.
Still, Bryant cried and convinced his wife to stand by him - literally, right next to him - and because he was never put on trial and convicted, we only really remember the subsequent pretty, shiny hardware of both the diamond and Championship varieties.
And now, on top of all of this, the dude has somehow managed to convince Lakers fans that not only should they retire his number, they should probably go ahead and retire both of them.
It really wouldn't be that hard. Just saying.
And if you think he wasn't planning for this the moment he decided to switch from number 8 to number 24 after the 2006 season, then you are dead wrong.
Kobe Bryant is maniacally narcissistic. He was already preparing for the day when his jersey would be hung from the Staples Center rafters; and because he believes himself to be the greatest Laker of all time, he wanted to make sure he had a trump card. Screw those one-number losers like Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe gets two. Kobe wins.
Everyone needs to stop being such pawns. The Lakers should retire number 8 - and just number 8 because that's how this works - and then they need to finally move on. Kobe Bryant has already gotten away with more than anyone ever should. At the very least, let's not double-memorialize him for it.
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