(ThyBlackMan.com) Like the rest of the world, I was stunned to hear Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant argue that it was somehow an unecessary burden for a black man to stand in support of the late Trayvon Martin. If anything, the Trayvon Martin case brought black people together in ways that we haven’t seen since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The case was clear cut: Trayvon had no weapon. He wasn’t bothering anybody. He was stalked out and murdered for appearing to look like a “thug.” George Zimmerman is a free man and later showed that he is every bit as violent as the world believed him to be. Case closed.
Even NBA athletes, many of whom have been intimidated to sleep by a world that has become obsessed with empty materialism, stood in unity with Trayvon. The biggest stars in the league, including LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, gave touching tributes to the young teen who didn’t deserve to die. Their leadership helped to inspire a nation, and I applaud them for it.
But Kobe Bryant is a bit different. He wants to be a replica of Michael Jordan, the man he could never quite match up to on the court. He
This makes me sad, since Kobe Bryant could have been so much more than the empty, unhappy man he is today.
Here are five disturbing realizations about Kobe Bryant that we should keep in mind. It might help put his sloppy words about Trayvon Martin into their proper context:
1) He, quite frankly, appears to be a selfish a**hole: I won’t even go into the oddities of Kobe’s sexual assault case many years ago, where he was revealed to be the married man having unprotected sex with a woman he’d met an hour earlier just a few years after Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV. If sleeping with random women unprotected and risking your wife’s health isn’t the root of selfishness, I don’t know what is.
We can also talk about the way Kobe Bryant’s spent his career jacking up ill-advised shots and attacking his teammates in public. I’ve always loved Kobe’s game when he’s playing well, but I’ve never wanted to meet him. Kobe is like the 14th century astronomers who thought that the sun revolved around the earth. But instead, Kobe believes that the universe revolves about himself and won’t hear anything different.
2) He’s one-dimensional: For LeBron James, life appears to be a mixture of possibilities, with as much meaning to be found off the court as on it. Dwyane Wade is every bit as committed to fatherhood as he is to dribbling and shooting. For Kobe, there is nothing but basketball, basketball, basketball and more basketball. He drives his teammates insane with his “win or die” mentality, and it probably makes him very difficult to play with. While this might be what it takes for him to win NBA titles, it can also make you into a horrible person. Once again, I ask you to take a look at Michael Jordan’s hurtful, nasty Hall of Fame speech as a great case-in-point.
3) He’s arrogant: Kobe’s confidence has served him well throughout the years, helping him rise to some of the most significant achievements in his sport. But arrogance can also rob you of your ability to empathize with others. Kobe’s decision to engage in ad hoc social commentary on an issue so important to so many people is reflective of a man who simply doesn’t give a damn. I was hurt by Kobe Bryant’s remarks, since it’s sad to see one of our most prominent black men have more commitment to making McDonald’s commercials than he has to saving the lives of young black men like himself. Kobe could have just said, “no comment.”
4) He’s materialistic: If a corporation were to pay Kobe to say something, he’d say it without hesitation. Men like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan would buckdance for chicken if there is enough money involved. But the mere idea that standing up for your community is the right thing to do seems to escape them, like trying to teach a ballerina to shoot an AK-47. Maybe black people just aren’t as profitable as the white ones.
5) He’s disconnected: Jim Brown made compelling points about Kobe’s lack of connection to the black community during a recent interview on the Arsenio Hall Show. Brown, like Muhammad Ali, is one of the greatest athletes of all time (as good or better than Kobe Bryant himself), and it wasn’t just because he dominated men on the field. Brown is one of the greatest because he understood the importance of using his power to elevate the circumstances of the community that had given him so much. Kobe’s inability to commit himself to something greater than himself makes him an extraordinary athlete, but a pathetic human being.
I hope that Kobe Bryant retracts his statements and keeps his social commentary to himself. It’s ironic that a man who begged for sympathy after cheating on his wife with no protection can’t provide a lick of understanding for an unarmed teenager who had his future stolen by a deranged, racist, vigilante. People didn’t support Trayvon just because he was black. They supported him because it was the right thing to do.
I also find it ironic that a man like Bryant will remain completely silent when it comes to speaking up for black America, but becomes bold and vocal when given an incentive to trash us. Sitting on the bench in the fight for racial justice is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you work with our enemies to deliberately sabotage progress that is being made. This turns us into Django and turns Kobe Bryant into Samuel L. Jackson’s character, who got shot in his a** at the end of the movie. It’s a myth to believe that a racist has to be white…there are black racists all around us.
Kobe Bryant, grow up brother, it’s not always about you. This one is about the black community.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins