Friday, March 14, 2014

Kobe Beef

This week, ESPN magazine published "The Conspiracy Issue," the latest themed issue they've rolled out since the cable network's publishing branch overhauled their format three years ago. It's one of my favorite magazines to read --I hardly bother with Sports Illustrated anymore-- and the theme issues can be quite fascinating. I read ESPN mag cover to cover, and while I was mostly enlightened by stories about frozen envelopes and point shaving I felt that the editors made one glaring omission.

I am absolutely, positively convinced that Kobe Bryant is a rapist. Everything about the case reeks of conspiracy; there was plenty of evidence to convict the NBA star, then the alleged assault victim changed her tune. With respect to the accuser, we still don't know the identity of Bryant's victim. Unlike Samantha Gailey, the 8th grader whose rape forced movie director Roman Polanski to flee the US, there was never a big reveal or a follow-up by the media. Just a counter-accusation of schizophrenia, than she disappeared into the ether. It's one thing to acknowledge and respect the privacy of a woman who was sexually assaulted, but another if this young woman lied. Regardless of age, that would be perjury.

It was almost as if the NBA wanted to silence her. Keep in mind where David Stern's league was in 2003: attendance was down, major market teams in Chicago and New York were also-rans, Michael Jordan had finally retired for good, "next" players like Vince Carter and Allen Iverson were already starting to fade, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade hasn't played a minute of pro ball yet.  Kobe was the best thing happening in the NBA at the time, and to see Stern's meal ticket go to prison for 8 to 10 years would have devastated the league. Somehow, Stern got his way.

Basketball has always been my #4 sport; I follow baseball, football, and hockey with a tad more ardor. The Kobe Bryant rape case essentially bound the NBA to fourth on my mental priority list. People can hate on Lebron or Derrick Rose all they want, but I can't bring myself to ever support or root for Kobe. Let the NBA and the mainstream media sweep it all under the rug, but nearly 11 years later the stench of conspiracy still lingers.


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