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On the Kobe Bryant Matter
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Twenty-Five
by Brian S. Wise
25 July 2003Kobe Bryant

Considering Kobe Bryant's current difficulties forces one to think about unpleasant things ...

In considering Kobe Bryant’s current difficulties, we are forced to think about rather uncomfortable things, namely assault and adultery, which takes us to some equally uncomfortable conclusions.
One: We are confronted by modern technology and closeted vigilantism; by typing certain words into an internet search engine, you can find whatever vital information you would like about Bryant’s accuser, including her full name, address (not to forget satellite photos of that address, should you choose to do your stalking by air), college electronic mail address, home phone number and pictures (though there is some new debate around their legitimacy).  The media has had all of these from the beginning (hell, even I have had them for six days now), but no legitimate outlet has made a point of releasing the information; there is no moral or logical point to justify such a release.  Kobe Bryant’s common defense is in no way served by random crackpots copying and pasting this girl’s phone number into message board postings, no matter the rationale.  (And by the way, if you are enough of a Lakers fan that you have sought out, found and called that number, for whatever reason, do society a favor and kill yourself.)
Two: What we as outside observers know is no more or less than the next man, and yet there have arisen impassioned defenses of Bryant, to the point of defaming the accuser, a stranger.  Part of this comes from ignorance and stupidity, both selective and somehow inborn; there are still people, and I know one of them, who will tell you O.J. Simpson is not a murderer.  (As an equal public service, I will also not be revealing this woman’s name.)  That is an example of selective ignorance.
The other part is that anyone over the age of 15 is familiar with the idea of celebrity worship, that there are women who want to bed down famous men for the sake of doing so, and there are others who want to create egregious circumstances from which they hope to secure one mammoth payday.  This sort of thing is correctly resented, and one is wise to keep his eyes open for this or similar occurrences.  But there is no indication that this is where the case is headed, so the accusation is premature, if not false.  (See also point number four for the concurrent argument.)
Three: Let us assume this was consensual sex between two adults (well, okay, two people of age; adults do not commit adultery unless they are permitted by their spouse, another column altogether).  Here has come a common question: If Mrs. Bryant is truly his love and his life and his everything, why did he cheat?  She, Mrs. Bryant, is a young and beautiful woman, after all.  Why?
It could be any one of a number of reasons.  One is that while Mrs. Bryant is indeed a beautiful woman, she is neither 19, blonde or white.  Another is that the prospect was quick and without commitment, which we can all admit is preferable to someone who wants to become the next wife the athlete will cheat on.  Still another is variety; show me the man married to the most beautiful woman in the world and I will show you a man tired of having sex with the most beautiful woman in the world.  Yet another is that Mrs. Bryant recently had a child, which tends to create in some men a certain wanderlust; any man who has spent more than seven days with a pregnant woman or a new baby has at least some appreciation for the idea of 19-year-old blondes with no strings attached to them.  Combine any of these with an athletic culture that convinces brilliant young competitors they can and should have whatever they want, there is no wonder why so much of basketball functions in perpetual chaos.
Four: At the end of the day, whether this proves to be a consensual act or assault is irrelevant.  The bottom line is that the case would not exist if only Kobe Bryant had the dignity and foresight to keep his pants buttoned; to open his room door, receive his room service (or whatever), pay his bill, maybe sign an autograph and shut his door.  Desirable men in high positions who wish to avoid struggles go out of their way – far, far out of their way – to assure their imminent legal safety.  Kobe Bryant did no such thing; for this we can show him no sympathy.

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