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Too soon: The past dribbles back for Kobe

By Michaela Thomas

With the news of Kobe Bryant’s death social media, celebrities and close friends of the athlete have been reacting to the tragic event. But along with his death, there was also some controversy as well.

Gayle King is a television personality and broadcast journalist for CBS News

King is no stranger to controversy as she had been the one to do the viral R. Kelly interview talking about his allegations. This time King did an interview with Lisa Leslie, a well known WNBA player and this interview landed her in hot water.

Leslie is a known friend of the late Kobe Bryant and she was being interviewed about Bryant’s legacy when King brought up Bryant’s past allegations by asking if his legacy was being complicated by his past sexual assault case.

Back in 2003, Bryant was arrested for a rape allegation. The trial was later dismissed because the accuser had been unwilling to testify and Bryant released a statement of apology. The accuser later then filed a civil suit over the incident which is estimated to be a settlement of over $2.5 million.

Once the interview was released the internet reacted.

Many were increasingly upset by the mention of Bryant’s allegations after his death and to one of his friends who was still grieving his loss. Many celebrities even took to social media to share their thoughts, the most notable comment coming from Snoop Dogg.

Snoop Dogg expressed his disdain for the interview and even seemed to threaten her by saying, “Respect the family and back off before we come and get you.” It was also reported that King was not only receiving an overwhelming amount of backlash but death threats as well. 

Now for the question of Gayle King being wrong, I say yes and no.

I say no because this question was going to be brought up at some point after Bryant’s death. Bryant was a huge public figure and when you are that big of a celebrity, whether you like it or not, your past is going to be brought up and questioned. 

Every success and every failure is going to be put under a microscope. So I do not think she was entirely wrong for asking that question because even though people like to forget, that case is a part of Kobe’s past.

What I do not agree with was her methods and how soon she brought it up. The interview was aired on Feb. 4, Bryant’s funeral was not held until Feb. 7. Bryant and his daughter were not even laid to rest before she decided to bring this situation up.

Vanessa Bryant, his wife, is still grieving over not only losing her husband but also her child. I also do not agree with the fact that King put Leslie in a very uncomfortable situation.

King is trying to blame CBS by saying that they only put out that part of the interview and that they gave her the question. I did watch the whole interview and I think that it makes the situation worse.

The interview was talking with Leslie about her friend Bryant, remembering his legacy and their friendship. King then begins to talk about the case. It felt odd and very uncomfortable which one could clearly tell Leslie was.  Instead of just asking a question and moving on, King continued to press Leslie.

King was making it so that Leslie had to now defend Bryant’s legacy. Instead of just being able to share memories about a dear friend that she had lost, she now had to defend Bryant because he is no longer able to do it himself. 

Plus King trying to blame CBS is in all honesty just her attempt of trying not to be held accountable. King is her own person who controls her own thoughts and movements. Even if CBS had told her to ask the question, she did not have to ask it and she definitely did not need to keep pressing afterward.

I will also say that I do not agree with King being threatened and receiving death threats. I think that is morally wrong. Yes, she was not right but her persecution should not come at the expense of her life.

Now the hashtag #IStandWithGayle has been trending as celebrities and journalists have been sharing their support. Snoop Dogg even apologized for his comments as well.

The internet still seems to be heated over the situation just because Bryant meant so much to so many people. Who knows when this will eventually die down but even though King was wrong, she did not deserve to be threatened like she was.

Michaela Thomas can be reached at michaela.thomas@spartans.ut.edu

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