Kobe Bryant is regarded as one of the most brilliant athletes, not only in basketball, but in the world of sports. From his on-court savvy to his business practices, Bryant is always moving forward with a plan in mind. He’s fully aware of the brand that he has created on and off the floor and is normally careful with his moves.
There have been an obvious few bumps on the road for Bryant, but nothing has been able to chop his fanbase down at the knees. Bryant is one of the most beloved players in the sporting world today. He’s held in high regard because of his championships, competitive nature and “will to win”. To Lakers fans, lambasting Bryant is almost like speaking ill on a close relative–you just don’t do it. That is, unless you’re prepared for the beef in the aftermath.
But his latest comments on the Trayvon Martin situation have me floored and it’s brought him scorn throughout social media. Bryant, being the well-calculated athlete that he is, has built an image throughout his career–especially the latter part of it. He approached sage-level status in terms of his basketball career years ago. He’s done the same off the court, so that’s why these comments are so surprising.
During an interview with the New Yorker’s Ben McGrath, the subject of Trayvon Martin was brought up. He even went as far as criticizing LeBron James and the Miami Heat for wearing hoodies to show solidarity during the Martin situation.
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” he said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”
Bryant has the right idea here on the surface. This is post-racial America idealism in its purest form. The impetus of defending someone because of race or religion or whatever other commonalities you have is dead and gone. If your brother is wrong, he’s wrong. No human being should be looked at in a different light than another. That’s how we envision our Eutopia operating and that’s what America is supposed to be.
Bryant isn’t wrong for saying that he isn’t supposed to jump to someone’s defense because they’re African-American. In fact, he’s totally right–he shouldn’t. Black people commit crimes every day–people of all races do. Whether you’re black, white, purple, brown or gold, if you commit a crime then you’re wrong and you deserve whatever punishment you get for committing the act that you did.
But the moment that Bryant makes that statement–a correct one–is the same one where he loses touch. No, you’re not supposed to jump to Trayvon Martin’s defense because he’s a black kid. You should wait for all of the facts to come out in the case before jumping to any conclusion–as a journalist, that’s a simple concept that I can understand. Really, anyone should be able to understand it. In our society, we’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
But the facts about the case were out at the time. Criticizing the Heat players for showing solidarity in this situation seems pretty judgmental and cold on Bryant’s part. In the Trayvon Martin case, the defense was ruled not guilty on a murder charge because of Florida’s “Stand your ground” law, but Martin was still killed. No matter what the result of the case was, he wasn’t getting his life back. Showing a bit of sympathy for a family that lost their son isn’t something that should really be frowned upon, if you ask me.
Also, since when did America jump to Martin’s defense because he was black? The Martin family’s situation garnered so much public sympathy and support because this was a boy minding his own business, walking home from a trip to the store and on the phone. He was doing what any normal teenager would be doing. He lost his life because of a suspicion that he was doing something wrong–not because he was. To me, something isn’t right in that situation. He was approached by George Zimmerman, not the other way around.
That’s what America was sympathizing with. It wasn’t because he was black, but rather, it was because he was killed. It didn’t matter what race you were apart of, that could’ve been your child. That could’ve been me or my brother. That could’ve been a good friend of mine or yours. Whether he was black, white, asian or any other race his death still would’ve been sad.
Bryant, himself, admitted that the system failed Trayvon Martin and his family. That’s the overwhelming public feel as well. And does he mean that, honestly? I think so. Bryant isn’t one to put on a public facade for anyone–let alone the twitterverse. He’s never been one to bend to the whim of the public and I doubt that changes anytime soon.
But what he has to realize is that post-racial America is currently failing. There is still racism present in our society and that’s evident. It’s evident through situations like the case of Jordan Davis, through the Jenna Six, through Troy Davis. Why didn’t the same “Stand your ground” law grant immunity to Marissa Alexander who is also being subjected to the “Three Strikes” law?
Even in the world of sports, there are the Johnathan Martin and Riley Cooper situations. Joel Ward of the Washington Captials was subjected to racism after a series clinching goal against the Boston Bruins two years ago.
It’s obvious that there is a different climate in terms of what racism is in this country now. Jim Crow America is far in our rearview at this point and the Civil Rights movement opened the door for minorities to earn their keep just like the majority does. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t remnants of racism left in this country in places where you would never expect them to be at.
As I said before, we’re all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. We all have a right to life, liberty, justice and peace living in this country. But the fact of the matter is that things don’t always work out that way. Bean, of all people, should realize that when making comments such as the ones that he made–and I’m sure that he does.
LeBron James showing solidarity for a black boy isn’t what matters in this situation. LeBron James showing solidarity for a human being who was killed is what really counts. Race is a factor in the situation, but it isn’t the main one. Bryant’s statement on the Martin movement is off-base and, with as well-calculated as he is, he’s got to have more tact than that.