Kobe: Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t

This whole issue with Kobe Bryant and the rape charges brought against him have shown us that it sucks to be a celebrity sometimes. The case against Kobe is the biggest issue in sports today and perhaps the most popular issue in general news.

It has been the talk of the nation for the past few months, since charges were announced in July.

It’s not a rare occasion to hear two or more people talking on the street or on a bus about Kobe and the upcoming trial. It’s almost amazing how much people are obsessed with the whole issue, especially here in Portland, where Blazer fans crack somewhat of a smirk whenever they see that a Los Angeles Laker (especially Kobe or Shaq) gets into some type of trouble.

Rape, however, is a very serious issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and Kobe’s chances of being found not guilty are not looking very good. Kobe’s reputation as class-act basketball player has been tarnished by the allegations of rape by the faceless accuser; even if he is found innocent, Kobe will forever have a dark cloud hovering over his head. The aftermath of this event could mean bad news for Kobe fans for a long time. Although he is one of the best in the league and he is a three-time NBA champion, trials of alleged rape do not just disappear because a jury says “not guilty.”

Kobe could be looking at a potentially long jail sentence, and his five-year career with the National Basketball Association would be finished. Kobe could lose a great amount of his fan base except for diehard fanatics. And he will have a very tough time adjusting to jail after living the life of a celebrity millionaire who can claim being one of the greatest superstars ever to step foot on the court. Any thoughts of his returning to the NBA could be shot down in an instant by a conviction.

If found innocent, Kobe will have to worry about other things. Surely the charges of rape will still linger in the air for the superstar, and he could catch hell from tabloids, TV and radio talk shows, and other media sources. As O.J. Simpson faced the aftermath of “The Trial of the Century,” Kobe could be faced with tabloid frenzy. The only advantage that O.J. has over Kobe is that he retired before his murder charges. Kobe still has quite a few years left to play, and in the worse case scenario, he may not be received well by many basketball fans outside of Los Angeles. Just a remote possibility of his being guilty could send some fans into jeering him at every game. Such heckling from the fans could take away one’s love for the game and could ultimately make Kobe retire.

With all that is happening with Kobe, the public doesn’t even seem to be focused on the alleged victim and her claims, which isn’t too hard, considering that the public has no idea who she is or if her story is true. The possibilities are endless considering what is the truth behind the whole story. Kobe has already admitted that he had engaged in sexual contact with his accuser, but claims that it was consensual. It could very well be that Kobe’s accuser is telling a lie and wishes to make Kobe’s life a living hell by telling the world he raped her, yet save face by not revealing her identity in the event he is found innocent.

Sperm samples of another man were found inside the underwear that the 19-year-old wore during her sexual encounter with Kobe. One’s promiscuity, however, does not determine whether the allegations are true. We must also take into consideration that fame and fortune can get the best of some. Kobe could be obsessed with his celebrity status so much that he thought he could get away with raping a fan without facing any consequences or repercussions. Kobe is often a target of basketball groupies, and all of the attention might have boosted his ego and made him think that every female fan wants to have sex with him. But “no” means “no.” No excuses. There is evidence that shows a good possibility of Bryant being guilty, for example the victim’s blood on his shirt and the visible injuries. The very descriptive story of the victim, provided by Doug Winters, an Eagle County sheriff’s detective, told how Kobe forced her to have sex with him on June 30 in Denver. This story could provide enough evidence to convict Kobe. However, Kobe’s defense teams claims that the injuries could have come from her previous sexual encounter(s). If defense such as this is the best that can be provided, then Kobe might want to prepare for a long stay in the slammer.

The biggest question this reporter has is what will happen to Kobe’s relationship with his wife, Vanessa. As he heads into his trial, scheduled for this November in Colorado, he is facing the possibility of going to jail for life. He has jeopardized the relationship with his wife by committing an act of adultery with a 19-year-old. Vanessa has thus far supported Kobe and stuck by him in his time of need. One cannot assume, however, that she was happy finding out that he actually did cheat on her with another woman. Whether he is found guilty or not guilty, Kobe should learn a very valuable lesson from this whole incident: If he is really in need of some physical attention, he can save himself from a lot of trouble by getting attention from the one he is supposed to get it from, his wife.

Kobe’s immediate future does not look too bleak. Lakers fans have shown a great amount of loyalty to Kobe despite the problems lingering over his head. Fellow basketball players also have been supporting him in his time of need. He can expect a great rousing of jeers from Portland fans when he next visits the Rose Garden. Blazer fans could be very ruthless toward Kobe, especially since the Blazers haven’t had a good run of luck with Lakers players. Scottie Pippin has returned to Chicago, and Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire have made it so that the Blazers should change the team symbol into a cannabis leaf. However they do not have to worry about a problem like rape charges. Kobe’s entire life sits on the edge of a knife, and only time and a very dramatic trial will tell the outcome of this stressful situation.