We have to be honest: Kobe Bryant was never a favorite around here.
We admired his work ethic, certainly, and his iron will. But there were other things we didn’t like as much. He was occasionally cruel to people, not least of all Katelyn Faber, the woman who accused him of sexual assault in 2003, something that was not really discussed after Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter accident in January, 2020. Whatever you believe happened, she bled vaginally and had choke marks on her throat. You can read and judge for yourself, including Bryant’s police interview. There’s a lot more if you care to look for it.
He grew up in Italy and in his early NBA days, he clearly seemed ill at ease and uncertain about whether or not he belonged.
It didn’t take long to prove that he did, but it wasn’t always easy.
One older teammate got into a dispute with Bryant that turned into a serious conflict in practice. Later that night, Bryant called him, sobbing, explaining that he didn’t know how to handle that situation and more or less did what he thought he was supposed to do. He asked for forgiveness, but only late at night and not in person.
One suspects that in his heart of hearts, Bryant was a very different person than his public persona would suggest.
By the time Bryant died, his reputation had been largely restored, even burnished. The allegations of rape were, as far as we saw, never discussed. The focus was understandably on the tragedy and also on how strong his relationship was with his daughter, Gianna, who died with him. Perhaps being around his wife and four daughters in his late 30’s gave him a different perspective from the one he had at age that he had at 25 when looming criminal charges nearly derailed his life. We’d like to think so.
His work ethic was legendary and set a standard that very few can match and he won five NBA titles with the Lakers.
Look at this slo-mo video of him in action against New York’s Renaldo Balkman. You get an appreciation for the work that he put in to have this level of fluidity in his game. Yes, he’s 6-6 and talented but so are lots of guys. Very few master the game to the point where they can do this.