Jim Brown Pretty Much Summed Up The Personal Enigma That Is Kobe Bryant

  • Jake O'Donnell

Jim Brown is known for speaking his mind. Good for him — he’s earned it. On the Arsenio Hall Show (in 2013, mind you), the former Syracuse and Cleveland Browns running back basically described Kobe as being a square peg in a round hole. “He’s somewhat confused about our culture,” Brown said. “Because he was brought up in another country.”

Kobe spent from 1984-1991 living in Rieti, Italy.

“He threw Shaq under the bus,” Brown said, in reference to Kobe’s personal defense during his 2003 rape trial, whereby he claimed Shaq would pay off women to make “situations like this” go away. Bus, check. Shaq, check. Thrown under, check.

What Brown seems to be getting at, is Kobe Bryant’s infamous prickly report and awkward social demeanor. He’s someone who has been called a lot of things, but “charming,” “friendly,” or “cool” ain’t any of them. And as Americans — having experienced the charisma of both Magic and M.J. in the previous decade — we’ve often struggled to put our collective finger on just what it is that makes Kobe Bean Bryant such a confusing dude.

He’s not really one of us. Nor is he one of them. Kobe’s a loner (which might explain why he took all that money at the expense of basketball logic and/or fan approval).

“If I had to invite people to that [black athlete] summit all over,” Brown said, referring to a summit held in the early 70s regarding Muhammed Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War. “There’d be some athletes I wouldn’t call. He’d be one of them.”

That’s gotta be tough to hear if you’re Kobe Bryant. Or maybe he just doesn’t care what people think anymore. Maybe he’s resigned to the fact that his legacy will always be a bit off. Only time will tell.