Commentary News — 27 March 2014

History matters. Knowing one’s history matters even more.

Kobe Bryant clearly believes he has all of the answers. Be it due to his upbringing outside of America or life as an NBA superstar inside the velvet rope; clearly Kobe feels he has it all figured out.

The player who has never stood in solidarity, shoulder-to-shoulder with ANYONE except his teammates on the court (or lawyer in the court room) wants to pontificate on “aggregate” African-American behavior?

“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” he said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.” So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense?”

*  Kobe Bryant on the Miami Heat ‘Hoodie’ photo of solidarity

There’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, just know that they are not all created equal. Some are less-informed, others are misinformed and even altogether uninformed.

Why does Kobe Bryant gleefully advance the stereotypical notion that African-Americans are incapable of individual decision-making or engage in unbridled group-think? It’s the same as suggesting African-Americans only voted for Barack Obama “because he is Black.” And that would make sense, only if you ignored the truth that Al Sharpton, Herman Cain, and Alan Keyes couldn’t win an election if their lives depended on it. And also ignored the truth that more African-Americans voted for Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis than  Jesse Jackson during EITHER Democratic primary of ’84 or ’88.

And…you’d also have to ignore the documented history that politicians such as Ken Blackwell, Lynn Swann, Michael Steele and others could not generate significant African-American support and lost their statewide elections.  Why does Kobe (and others) feel that “we” must justify and validate our feelings, concerns and decisions as being based in something other than color? 

Can’t “justice” be reason enough to support Trayvon Martin? If Kobe would like to discuss the forensics, the autopsy and medical report related to the case and why I (like many other African-Americans) feel that there was an injustice committed, I will fill his ear all day. But to employ the reductionist reasoning that “we” (including the Miami Heat and the President of the United States) are only concerned because Trayvon was also Black is patently offensive and ignorant beyond measure. None of Kobe’s 30,000 points in the NBA mitigate or change this fact.

It’s hard to reason with abject stupidity and stereotypes, but that is what Kobe Bryant is asking you and me to do. Bryant of all people should be mindful of stereotyping African-Americans given his life accomplishments are all inextricably linked to bouncing a basketball, minimal formal education, being named after a food item and (rumored) rampant sexual behavior outside of his marriage and accused of violent felonies.

History matters.

Be careful with stereotyping African-Americans Kobe. You have promulgated plenty of them on your own.

The death of Trayvon Martin had and still has everything to do with the fight for justice. To say you individually wish not to show any public support of Trayvon is your choice, Kobe. Keep me out of it. Keep the Heat out of it. Don’t indict the rest of African-Americans who do support the Martin family.  Don’t be silent WHILE the case progressed and NOW have a critique to offer more than a year later.  

That’s cowardice masquerading as concern; just the latest acknowledgment of who you really are.

You Kobe, (like OJ) were all good with the African-American community support as you traveled back and forth to Colorado to handle the litigation of (at best) your infidelity or (at worst) sexual criminality.  Maybe you forgot how undeserving of support you really were.  Your most recent remarks are reminding us.

Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right?”

In 2003 when you Kobe Bryant were charged with sexual assault after admitting to having intercourse with a then 19-year-old hotel employee, the “facts” did not support your version of events. Events, when faced with a civil lawsuit from your accuser, you opted for the route of non-disclosure agreement and settlement; not exoneration and vindication. The civil trial settlement included the provision that the accuser would drop the criminal charges.

Facts…inconvenient they are at times.

All of us would have loved to have sat and listened to the facts as they were presented in a Colorado courtroom, but you paid to make sure that didn’t happen. History matters, especially yours.

In the discussion of race, stereotypes and their impact on the American judicial system, you Kobe overlook the obvious. “Kevin Jackson” from Philadelphia would likely either still be in jail or out on parole and prominently featured on the sex offender registry. There would be no future 48 million dollar contract at age 35.

Nevertheless, you thanked “fans” for their unwavering support along the way, despite not having earned any of it. No number of made jump shots verifies one’s integrity or validates your version of the story. You bought your accuser’s silence and that 4 million dollar apology ring/press conference bought your way back into your own house.

You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right?”

Right Kobe…just like I would in any other situation. I listened intently. Here are some facts regarding other “situations.”  Please sit and listen.

Kobe Bryant has never lent his name, image, likeness or brand in the name of social justice. Maybe in the past 18 years of his career in the NBA, he just never found time. I get it. Losing all of one’s endorsement deals to sexual assault allegations makes one a bit skittish after you managed to build them back up. It takes a long time and a lot of work to get them, lose them and then get them back.

Either way, Kobe Bryant has no social justice activism on his résumé.


Wait…take that back. Kobe has spoken in support of Magic Johnson’s gay son.

Why should anyone be surprised? What I can’t tolerate is a lack of tolerance.”

Yes, that came from the guy fined $100,000 for referring to an NBA referee as a f*****g f****t. Yes, and Paula Deen “can’t tolerate a lack of tolerance” either if asked.   All of my “racially tolerant” friends routinely yell “f****** N*****” in front of 18,997 and television cameras without blinking an eye when they’re angry.

Yes Kobe…history does matter.

Let’s not forget, Kobe also chastised a fan for an “anti-gay” tweet. Of course…and Mel Gibson is the newly elected Sheriff to police antisemitism. Hell, why not?

Kobe Bryant went from homophobic slur on TV-user to the champion of gay rights…all in one year. Next thing you know, Kobe will be giving anti-misogyny lectures and criticizing his accused sexual assault brethren of Darren Sharper and CeeLo Green.

Hell, why not?

Because as long as Kobe tries to act as if history and facts don’t matter in the discussion of aggregate African-American sensibilities, why the hell not?

And today in his latest act of hypocrisy, Bryant quoted Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on his Instagram account.  Yes, Kobe has the same dream as Dr. King of a supposed colorblind society…right after he finished insulting all and only African-Americans.


And so did Trayvon.  How “colorblind” of you Kobe.

If Kobe actually studied Dr. King beyond instagram memes, he would know that King would not have sat idly by in the face of injustice. He would have known that King would have saluted public solidarity among high-profile members of the community, not threw rocks from across the street to criticize it.  Dr. King would have had plenty to say about changing the social conditions which would  allow an unarmed youth to be profiled and shot with no legal repercussion.  Dr. King’s record of social activism is clear.  And so is yours, Kobe.

There is no record of any “intolerance of intolerance,” social activism or behavioral consistency as to what is appropriate or not in the face of injustice by Kobe Bryant.  Instead, just a whole lot of baskets.  Bully for the Kobester.

Bryant’s cursory knowledge of the interrelation of history, social justice and race is proof positive of how ONE history class beyond the 12th grade would have come in awful handy right about now.  Lastly, here is the period in the discussion of the comparison of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan…

(At least Michael managed to remain a jerk in secret.)


About Author


Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is a columnist, radio and television commentator. Visit for the latest from Mr. Mo'Kelly. He is heard weekends from 6-8pm on KFI AM640 in Los Angeles. The program is available via the iHeartRadio app and for download on iTunes and all podcasting apps. Find him on social media - @mrmokelly (twitter and instagram) Contact Mo'Kelly: @mrmokelly

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