Charles Barkley said during an interview on TODAY that Kobe Bryant should be remembered after his death for both his legendary NBA career, as well as for the sexual assault allegations lobbed against him in 2003. “You have to tell the picture in totality,” Charles said during the February 14 interview ahead of the NBA All-Star game in Chicago. “We’re not making Kobe out to be no hero. We’re celebrating his basketball excellence. We understand what happened in Colorado. That’s fair, but two things can be true. Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players ever. And he had a flaw that we all know about.” Kobe was accused of rape by an unnamed 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado, and prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges after he settled a civil suit with the woman out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Kobe admitted that he had sex with the woman, but said that the encounter was entirely consensual. He apologized publicly to his wife, Vanessa Bryant, for cheating. Some of Kobe’s fans took umbrage with what Charles said during his interview. “Here we go again. Another moron trying to be cool with the networks 🤦🏻♀️ Charles Barkley is disgraceful,” one person tweeted. “God is our Judge. I totally disagree with Gayle King & Charles Barkley for totally disrespecting the legacy of Mr. Kobe Bryant, his family, friends & fans,” another fan tweeted. “Jesus Christ forgave all of our sins after we repented. God don’t [sic] remember our sins. Use wisdom in every way possible. #Peace.” The fan is angry at Gayle for a controversial interview she conducted on CBS This Morning with WNBA star Lisa Leslie.
During the interview, Gayle brought up Kobe’s rape case and asked if Leslie thought it would “complicate” his legacy. She was immediately slammed by celebrities like Snoop Dogg who thought it was in poor taste so soon after his death; Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi Bryant, as well as seven others, died in a helicopter crash on January 25. Snoop posted a video on social media calling out the journalist for her interview.
“Gayle King, you’re out of pocket for that s***,” Snoop said. “Way out of pocket. What do you gain from that? We expect more from you Gayle.” He later apologized after finding out that Gayle was getting death threats.