Saturday, February 8, 2020
Gayle King's question reveals the story of Kobe becoming a better man
People are outraged by the line of questioning in Gayle King’s interview with Lisa Leslie.
It was too soon. The family is still grieving. She hasn’t applied the same standard in interviewing white men. Gayle, and sidekick Oprah, are engaged in a plan to undermine the integrity of Black men.
We’ve heard it all. King blasted back with criticism of CBS’s decision to release the clip. She says it’s valid to slam her when viewing the clip out of context. Snoop Dogg called her a bitch. It’s a media circus distracting from the mourning of Kobe Bean Bryant, who died with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers in that horrific helicopter crash.
The grieving of Kobe’s death has been hard for all of us to endure. It’s one of those rare moments in which the world stops to take notice. It happened when Michael Jackson died. It happened when Prince and Whitney died. It happened when John Lennon was killed and when Elvis was found dead on a toilet.
Gayle’s controversial question forces a critical gaze related to how we ponder legacy. What do we do with the legacy of James Brown’s history of domestic violence? How does the press tell the story of Prince’s death without stepping on shaky ground? Is it the obligation of the press to cuddle the emotions of grieving family and fans, or is there more to the story that deserves to be told?
This is the essence of journalism. It’s not what we write, it’s how we write what we write that distinguished good reporting and storytelling from amateur journalism. There are layers to each story lurking beneath the desire to heal. How we tell the story challenges our desire to pander to the impulses of our readers. What the public desires should never take precedent over a story with a meaningful lesson.
I defend King’s right to ask the question. I do so because the question reveals the story of Kobe’s legacy. As people fume over the validity of the question, lost is the power of Kobe’s life lesson. Fearing the question hinders our ability to hear him speak from the grave.
Gayle’s question is about legacy. What is Kobe’s legacy? It’s easy to point to his accomplishments on the basketball court. Those are the feats we celebrate in life. The broader question for journalist to ask is what the lessons are we learn in death.
Kobe’s life gives us that answer, a person is best judged by how they deal with their worst mistake.
That’s a lesson for our children. It’s the story within the story that helps us build upon Kobe’s lifelong commitment of learning from his mistakes.
It happened after he was accused of rape. Listen to the lesson in the public statement after the dismissal of the case.
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, Colorado.
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.
I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado
It's certain the apology was part of a legal strategy. We shouldn’t overthink the apology. It’s what followed that informs the lesson regarding legacy. It’s how he owned it. It’s how he built what appears to be a better marriage. He learned to play piano to convince Vanessa, his wife, not to divorce him. He took his legendary focus on the court and applied it to his marriage.
That’s a lesson involving legacy. It takes questions to build a case for judging Kobe based on how he dealt with his biggest mistake.
There are other mistakes. Most people aren’t limited to one in a lifetime.
Two years after being fined by the NBA for using a homophobic slur toward a referee, Kobe admonished two Twitter users for using homophobic language.
"Just letting you know @pacsmoove @pookeo9 that using 'your gay' as a way to put someone down ain't ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab."
Bryant was responding to a message from Twitter user @pookeo9, a 16-year-old Canadian.
The first tweet was directed to the @kobebryant handle and read, "Let's make out in bed Kobe."
@Pacsmove re tweeted that message, adding "you're gay" to the beginning.
Kobe acknowledged his past issues with using homophobic language.
"Exactly, that wasn't cool and was ignorant on my part. I own it and learn from it and expect the same from others."
These are questions regarding legacy. Life after death doesn’t mean much if we limit legacy to what happened on the basketball court. Pressing the question regarding legacy helps in the reporting of the story of the man hidden from public view. Some may say that’s too personal. It’s none of our business. I say it matters when the lesson inspires change.
Knowing what I know about Kobe from what I’ve read and witnessed, I believe Kobe would be okay with the question. His legacy is about improving on the basketball court. I’m convinced the same applied to his life off the court. Becoming a better man, a better husband, a great father and friend was his commitment after he walked away from the game of basketball. On the court he learned from his mistakes. Off the court, he did the same.
Journalist are obligated to tell that story. Kobe worked to hard to tell it, and we should press questions to help tell his story.
The question is a gift because of the answer. Fearing the shame impedes the witness of change.
That’s why you ask the question.