Kareem Abdul Jabbar on Kobe: “He learned from his mistakes and devoted himself to being a better person”
In a commentary published in the Hollywood Reporter, NBA Hall of Famer, six-time NBA Champion, and former L.A. Laker remarked on the controversial back and forth between some Hip-Hop artists (most notably Snoop Dogg) and Gayle King (her supporters) regarding remarks made in an interview about Kobe Bryant’s legacy. Without truly critiquing King, as that was not his concern, Jabbar took to pen to confront what is the by-product of such fruitless (yet mired in pain) discourse.
The basketball legend said, “While it’s clear that 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg were reacting from a place of deep grief, their personal emotion doesn’t justify such a public and misguided attack.”
So it was good that Snoop course-corrected himself with an apology.
But there issue remains. Should people stir clear of the 2003 sexual assault claim? Should that accusation diminish in the public what the Black Mamba meant to people? Jabbar does not believe it does. In fact, he actually believes it made him stronger and course-corrected the man.
“Fame is unforgiving. Most people who make mistakes in their lives have a degree of privacy within which they can heal and redeem themselves. With the famous, nothing is forgotten and rarely is anything forgiven. Kobe did indeed go through an accusation which he said was consensual but still was adultery. That was 17 years ago when he was only 24. The case was dismissed and Kobe redeemed himself many times over with his exemplary life since. To me, Kobe was even more exceptional because he learned from his mistakes and devoted himself to being a better person. Few have that kind of strength, courage or commitment. We can love and respect Kobe without canonizing him as perfect. Death often immortalizes the ideal rather than the real. But it was the real Kobe, flaws and all, that we should love.”
He also offered what he believes Kobe would have wanted.
“Kobe would not have appreciated the attacks against Gayle King because he knew they perpetuated a climate of disrespect that would be physically, mentally and socially harmful toward all women, including his wife and daughters.”
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