“You have to tell the picture in totality,” Barkley told NBC’s Today while being interviewed ahead of this weekend’s All-Star Game in Chicago. He went on to elaborate on why the LA Lakers legend should be remembered for both his basketball career and for the polarizing sexual assault allegations made against him when he was only 24.
“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,” he maintained.
In 2003 Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old female hotel worker in Colorado, where he was scheduled to undergo knee surgery. These allegations resurfaced following the recent helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others.
Recently, CBS’ Gayle King was publicly dragged for asking WNBA legend Lisa Leslie about her thoughts on the subject during an on-air interview, but Barkley seemed to have no qualms about addressing the topic candidly.
“Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players ever,” said the 56-year-old. “And he had a flaw that we all know about.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar agrees
In his piece for the Hollywood Reporter, retired Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also addressed Bryant’s complicated legacy. He echoed Barkley’s sentiments.
“We can love and respect Kobe without canonizing him as perfect,” wrote Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. “Death often immortalizes the ideal rather than the real. But it was the real Kobe, flaws and all, that we should love.”
“Snoop Dogg has 39.1 million followers on Instagram and 50 Cent has 25.3 million followers on Twitter,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in response to King’s most vocal critics. “When they send out to their followers a threatening and abusive tirade, they are influencing a younger generation of men to continue to refer to women who don’t do what men want as bitches.”