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Character matters when it comes to Kobe versus Carmelo and Kobe versus LeBron


Character matters when it comes to Kobe versus Carmelo and Kobe versus LeBron

By David O. Williams

May 19, 2009 —  Say the words “Kobe Bryant is coming to town” around these parts and people grab their wallets and dive for cover from the media horde that plundered the Vail Valley six years ago.

Eagle County taxpayers like me were forced to pony up more than $200,000 to pay for the pre-trial of the century when Sheriff Joe Hoy and DA Mark Hurlbert charged Bryant with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old Lodge & Spa at Cordillera worker.

The case turned the county seat of Eagle into a 24-7 media circus that literally and figuratively beat down the local populace. And now Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers will be back in our state Saturday and Monday for games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets, dredging up all the old, bad memories all over again.

Kobe appears to have taken the whole episode incredibly personally, apparently heedless of his own monumentally bad judgment, because he beats on the Nuggets like a drum (10-1 in the last 11 games) and likely will continue that trend tonight in Game 1 despite the defensive tenacity of the new-look Nuggets. He just seems to have their number.

The case against Bryant was thrown out when his alleged victim refused to testify, but he did settle a civil suit she filed, and what remains remarkable to me is how little his image has suffered from the whole sordid affair.

Even if everything his accuser charged him with was fabricated (and that’s doubtful), Bryant exercised a stunning lack of character by admittedly cheating on his wife in such a classless way. He also demonstrated amazing stupidity by putting himself in that position (alone in a hotel room with a teenager) in the first place.

But the 2008 MVP of the league has salvaged most of his endorsement deals, was the darling of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and is now being hailed as the second coming of Michael Jordan in his preemptively hyped Finals showdown with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The league clearly wants that match-up and views the Nuggets and the Orlando Magic as mere canon fodder in the battle of marketing behemoths. How else to explain the ongoing war of words between Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Denver’s Kenyon Martin, a story that clearly still has traction only because it’s convenient to portray the hard-nosed Nuggets as “the Thuggets.”

True, Carmelo Anthony got a DUI, threw a sucker punch in Madison Square Garden and was featured in a Baltimore-area gang-banger video, but he’s never been close to putting himself in the position Kobe put himself in.

Martin just plays hard and has a lot of tattoos. And Chris “Birdman” Anderson did his time, suspended from the league for two years for drug use. But what Kobe did here in Eagle County in 2003 makes him at best an arrogant scumbag, and at worst someone much more reprehensible.

Former Lakers player and executive Jerry West is right, LeBron has surpassed Kobe as the face of the league. Despite his lack of championships, LeBron’s ascendancy is deserved because he has 10 times the character of Kobe – and arguably twice as much as Jordan. The Nuggets are merely emblematic of the league as a whole – a flawed group of overpaid narcissists (with the exception of Chauncey Billups).

In some ways, the Kobe case brought out the worst in our valley, raising questions of racism, muckraking opportunism and law-enforcement incompetence. It was a story that -- despite my front-row seat during the early stages when my paper, the Vail Trail, still had a courtroom pass -- quickly passed us by.

A weekly paper with a staff of only three or four at that point, largely defeated in the local newspaper war, we were admittedly fairly irrelevant at that point, but relevance meant complete prostitution to the cable-news cycle, and our competition eagerly went down that road.

Now the Vail Daily “star” reporter in the case (Randy Wyrick, now of the upstart Vail Mountaineer) and his editor at the time (current Vail Daily publisher Don Rogers) are at each other’s throats in a new newspaper war, and both are apparently completely and blissfully unaware of how irrelevant their chosen medium has become in the intervening years.

Still, I had my 15 seconds back in ’03, appearing on Sports Center (still waiting on the tape from local product Shelley Smith of ESPN), got a byline in the New York Times and wrote a couple of stories I was proud of -- on racism in Eagle County (for the L.A. Weekly) and on disclosing the names of sexual assault victims.

But for the most part those were dark days for everyone involved. Short of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vince McMahon taking on Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke in a cage match over the double booking of the Pepsi Center Monday, or Martin body slamming Cuban, or Rogers doing the same to Wyrick in a similar confrontation, the only thing that will help us all move on is a Nuggets series win.



Comment on article  12 Comments on "Character matters when it comes to Kobe versus Carmelo and Kobe versus LeBron"


Ed — May 19, 2009

Obviously you are from Colorado... Defending Anthony and Anderson is stupid and only cheapens you and your paper. I agree with you on one thing. Kobe should have NEVER have put himself in that situation. Period. Just like, Anthony and Anderson and all the other NBA players that do stupid things. Michael Jordan was supposedly a gambler and womenizer, Magic Johnson was also a womenizer, which is how he got AIDS. You and I will never know what it's like to be that young making millions a year and the pressures that come with that. We've all done stupid things but we all have never had a camera on us around the clock. Anderson, Anthony and Kobe are all the same. They just got caught!! Hopefully LeBron will keep clean or not get caught.


TXY — May 19, 2009

I must agree with Ed (previous post). It takes a lot to judge a person as freely as is being done in this article and I would question whether you (the author) are the right person to do it.

I am certainly not defending Kobe for his actions in Colorado...but I would urge against judging a person completely on one action.

While forming an opinion on someone based on their worst act is so popular these days, I don't think it is the correct thing to do.

I am certain that Bryant, Anthony and Anderson do plenty of 'good' things as well... as does Lebron.

Why can't we just enjoy the basketball..


Erd — May 19, 2009

Hey remember we are all human. If a good-looking teenager came on to me alone in my hotel room I'd probably do her ... wouldn't you?


David O. — May 19, 2009

No, I wouldn't, Erd. With Kobe's money, there are much cheaper ways to get and give an in-room spa treatment, such as a facial.

And I'm not judging Kobe on one action, TXY. He has a body of selfish and arrogant work, including selling out Shaq during the investigation here by telling the cops his teammate fooled around, too.

As I said, the Lakers have the Nuggets number (as evidenced by tonight's 105-103 win) and will likely take this series, but they won't beat LeBron. King James is the consummate pro and the ultimate teammate.

Kobe will never win a title without the Diesel. LeBron will win this one and a couple more, and clearly Carmelo will square off with LeBron in at least one or two.


Erd — May 19, 2009

Aw, c'mon David. There's something about the dynamic of it all: young girl, silver platter.

What kind of in-room facial?


David O. — May 20, 2009

When you have that much money, the silver platter can be paid for (and it's much cheaper than a settlement in a civil suit, not too mention the costs of the original criminal case). As for the facial, check out Wikipedia's Kobe entry:


tboyd — May 20, 2009

I'd like to see that Wyrick v Rogers cage match. Perhaps should pony up and sponsor the event?


Erd — May 21, 2009

David, yes an interesting facial. After doing a google image search on the gal I would agree with you that funds would better be spent elsewhere.

Maybe could pony up for a candidate search -- who cares about a couple of old men duking it out? Might be of interest if they they simply flap each other to death with their lips.

Is one of them a preacher?


David O. — May 21, 2009

One of them once was, until his Pope-mobile spontaneously combusted on Vail Pass. How's that for a sign from on high? The other one just comes off like one in his too-preachy columns.


Mike — May 22, 2009

Williams, as a Vail local, then why are you pointing to wikipedia as the authentic source for information about Kobe's rape charge?

You don't appear to know the real lowdown about Kobe's fateful visit to Vail. Don't let your ignorance blind you.

His host at Cordillera showed him around and flirted with him. Bigtime. They got it on in his hotel room and it was consensual. Then Kobe threw it in her backdoor. That's when it ceased being consensual. The gray area makes this sound different than if Koby had raped some random woman in a dark alley, huh?


Erd — May 22, 2009

Backdooring a girl he met 20 minutes before? That's quite rude, even in my view, which tends to be liberal about human urges. If that's what he did, indeed he is a jerk.


Reid — May 26, 2009

Mike, NO! means NO!.....we're taught that when we're 11 years old....looks like Kobe missed school that day. Whether or not the victim was "slutty" is a moot point, when the law is broken she is a victim. And don't be fooled Mike, its a small town and people know each other....that's why after six years its still a sore subject in our community.



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