The NBA has spent most of the year celebrating the career of Kobe Bryant, who is widely viewed as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
One issue that is discussed much less often: the rape charges filed against Bryant in July 2003.
The rape charges against Kobe were covered on ESPN Wednesday during Hannah Storm’s show, Face To Face.
During the program, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne — who has been spending time with Kobe during his final days as a player — said she had a “strange” and “provocative” take on the rape charges against him. She did not disappoint.
Shelburne said that being charge with rape “freed” Kobe to “tap into the darker side of himself.” He was then able to “channel all of that rage and fear on to the basketball court,” according to Shelburne.
The comments fit a troubling pattern of ignoring the alleged victim and focusing on the impact the charges had on Bryant, his endorsements and his on-court performance.
The Legacy Of The Kobe Bryant Rape CaseOn June 30, 2003, Kobe Bryant arrived at the Cordillera Lodge and Spa in Edwards, Colorado. After a frustrating season…thinkprogress.org“It was traumatic for him. I think that is the right word,” Shelburne concluded.
“Traumatic for all concerned we should say, not just Kobe Bryant. There was a woman on the other side,” Storm reminded Shelburne before quickly changing the topic.
The issue has been largely dismissed in the eyes of the public since the case was dropped after the Bryant’s alleged victim refused to testify in court. The evidence against Bryant, however, was substantial — including vaginal tearing and the alleged victim’s blood on Bryant’s shirt. Bryant initially told the police he had never had sex with the woman but quickly changed his story and admitted he did.
After the criminal case was dropped, he released statement. “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,” Bryant wrote. A civil case against Bryant was settled out of court.