Rappin’ About Kobe Bryant’s Rape Charges, 10 Years Later

Basketball, J. Tinsley, Trible To Your Bass — By on July 2, 2013 at 9:20 am


In July 2013, the most important items on Kobe Bryant’s “to-do” list are fully recovering from a season-ending Achilles heel injury and ensuring Dwight Howard returns to Los Angeles next season. That’s quite the contrast from where he found himself this time exactly 10 years ago. Mark Trible and Justin Tinsley examine the darkest phase of Kobe’s career — his rape case, which ignited conversations about America’s rape laws and the impact it had on his career moving forward.

Tinsley: Ten years ago, around July 2003 to be exact, life for me then was in some ways the same as it is now. Sports and music were vices my life revolved around. 50 Cent was the biggest rap artist in the world thanks to “Get Rich Or Die Tryin’.” Dipset’s “Diplomatic Immunity 1″ was the way of life for a Central Virginia 17-year-old kid preparing for his last year of high school. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade were the new NBA kids on the block and the heirs to league’s throne. T.I.’s “Trap Muzik” was the most anticipated album of the summer thanks in part to the chant-worthy classic, “24’s.”

And in a one trip to Colorado, Kobe Bryant literally became Public Enemy #1.

Even then, Kobe was unable to escape the label of “Shaq’s sidekick” and a kid whose talent was always overshadowed by immature tendencies, right or wrong. In some ways, and this could be revisionist history, it was almost as if some people I came in contact with then yearned for Bryant to be guilty based off grudges they had with his game.

Traveling down this road, we’re kind of opening Pandora’s Box. It’s a topic and time we all remember but is rarely discussed anymore. Maybe we’ve moved on, or maybe we’re unearthing dark memories from a time period when one of the league’s brightest stars had his career and freedom hang in the balance. Mark, any memories from you during that time?

Trible: My CD player also had the blue and red discs interchanged for each ride. At 16 in Northern VA, I remember people assuming Kobe was guilty before proven innocent.

I guess that’s the way it tends to go when celebrities or athletes brush with the law. But, who was Kobe? Like you said, he was Shaq’s sidekick. He also seemed to be the self-proclaimed heir apparent to Michael Jordan.

He worshiped and idolized Jordan like my friends and I did. So why was he any different from us? Was it that he braved the new world of obvious ego-driven “swagger”?

The thing I’ll remember most about that incident was very few people took Kobe’s side when accusations were made. I think he came off unlikable — and still does to some — and he didn’t yet have the résumé to overcome that. While Allen Iverson had endearing qualities of heart and smaller stature, Kobe appeared to have neither.

Anyone I remember really pulling for the guy only did so because they loved the big fella in the middle. They reluctantly cheered for the guy who rode those giant coattails.

Perhaps I was still stung by the series with my then beloved Sacramento Kings. My new jersey for the year was certainly purple. But it had the number four on it, and it read “WEBBER” on the back.

Why would I side with Kobe?

M. Trible

Sports are all I know. Writing came naturally. Sports writer by night & sports writer by night. Philosophy major who thinks the unexamined sport is not worth watching. Always for hire, never for sale. I believe that silence is the virtue of fools and I can't hear you.

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  • Chris B says:

    Good stuff. This reminded me of when Chappelle said Kobe was beating the case on the court. “Play for your freedom…”

  • First of all, good job by both of you all. Now, as for Kobe being booed in Philadelphia at the 2002 all-star game … the guy said the previous summer that he wanted to rip Philadelphia’s heart out in the Finals, which makes perfect sense … but also not how you endear yourself to your hometown city, particularly Philadelphia.

    In summation, I dislike Kobe the person but love watching Kobe the basketball player. What’s crazy is, like you said, the rape case barely even enters my mind anymore. But that’s a good thing, since he was never convicted of a crime. Proof that you can get a second chance and change the narrative.

  • Dillon Friday says:

    Two moments stick out for me. One: His apology press conference where he repeated “I’m disgusted with myself” and at the end proclaimed his innocence. It always brings up the question is he mad that he did it (cheating on his wife not rape as we found out) or mad that he got caught? Just once I want an athlete to be honest. That’s too much to ask.
    The Iverson angle is an important one to consider. If you remember I think Stephen A. (could be wrong but it was on Sportscenter) interviewed Iverson soon after the incident came to light. A.I. used the phrase “squeaky clean” to describe Kobe and I’ll never forget that.

  • Mtrible says:

    This was a pleasure to put together. I hope the format sticks around for occasional use.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that I began to root for Kobe after his number change. 24 is my favorite.

  • deeJ says:

    Interesting!! As a man who is blessed to have two young sons, I as a father would be outraged if my son had rape charges filed against. I would really have to question his upbringing. Nevertheless, I would be even more perturbed if the victim was found to have several different men’s sperm in her panties and vagina upon being checked within 24 hours later. I’m just saying…

  • LadyD says:

    Thumbs up to Kobe for not caring what people think about him. Only God is to judge and that’s all is has to care about. this is @ Rev P Reverse, do you know Kobe as a person, or making your judgement based on what the media feeds you? I question “Kobe has the pleasue of playing with Shaq”, They both had the pleasure of playing with each other, and Kobe did not ride his coat tail, he was just as much as responsible for the Lakers winning as Shaq and anyone on the team.

    Society feel they have the right to be in others business and they are owed something. People didn’t like Kobe because the media was preparing him to Jordan, and he didn’t bow down to Shaq. I commend him for being a human being first who goe throught he same trials & tribulation as anyone, It’s call growing/learning from our mistakes. Told news filed away, please leave it their

  • Very well done fellas, Kobe has legitimately come full circle by being the same alpha-male, stubborn, bull-headed guy he’s always been. In ways, I appreciate it more now as an older man than I did as a young man. Nice stuff here.


  • JT says:

    Dope post. I low key forgot how it use to be Kobe vs Iverson.

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