Gayle King’s Tuesday interview with WNBA Los Angeles Sparks legend Lisa Leslie turned a corner when she was asked to talk about Kobe Bryant’s rape accusation, a charge he faced early in his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The CBS This Morning host is currently being pressed on social media, with Shea Butter Baby singer Ari Lennox, as one of her critics with the most reach.
Leslie’s interview was filmed at her home a week after a tragic helicopter crash took the life of Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other friends and loved ones.
For the majority of the interview, Leslie recalled how her and Bryant came into the professional sports industry at the same time and dominated, not only the Los Angeles basketball scene, but the sports world as a whole.
King took the latter part of the interview to ask Jones her thoughts on Bryant’s legacy and whether or not she feels it’s appropriate to bring up the accusation now that he has perished.
“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of sexual assault charge which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?” King asked.
“It’s not complicated at all,” Leslie responded. She went on to say that they would hang out in clubs on numerous occasions and he never tapped her play wingman to pick up women, a role she said that other NBA friends would oftentimes ask her to fill.
“I’ve just have never seen Kobe be the type of person to do something or violate a woman, or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know,” Leslie said.
“But Lisa you wouldn’t see it though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it,” King replied.
“And that’s possible, I just don’t believe that. And I’m not saying things didn’t happen. I just don’t believe that things didn’t happen with force,” Leslie said.
When asked if it’s a fair to pair with Bryant’s legacy, Leslie essentially said no.
“I think that the media should be more respectful at this time. It’s like if you had questions about it, you had many years to ask him that. I don’t think it’s something we should keep hanging over his legacy,” mentioning that it went to trial. King then responded that the case was thrown out because the alleged victim refused to testify.
While some thought King’s interview was fair and nuanced, others claimed that King was committed to tearing down Bryant’s legacy. Ari Lennox went on a 4 minute rant in her car on Wednesday morning slamming King and her best friend Oprah Winfrey, over recent criticisms and allegations, stating they both are committed to souring the legacy of prominent Black men–with Winfrey’s involvement in the HBO Michael Jackson documentary last year, and her pulling out of the upcoming Russell Simmons documentary which chronicles several women who say they were sexually assaulted by the Def Jam founder.
Listen, this is about to get real toxic, and I don’t give a f—k if I get cancelled forever,” Lennox began. “F–k Gayle and F–k Oprah. Y’all are some self-hating pieces of s–t f–k a–es.”
Lennox refers to Winfrey and King as “Okrah” and “Kale” and explicitly says she’s willing to be dragged because she has nothing to lose over it.
“You want to spend the rest of your days tearing down Black people? Build us up, help us!” Lennox said. She also mentions comedian Mo’Nique, and claims the comedian has suffered at the hands of Oprah.
“I’m not here for anybody tearing down that legendary man,” Lennox continued referring to Kobe Bryant. Lennox also said she doesn’t believe that Bryant ever raped anyone.
Last year Gayle King was heralded as a ground-breaking, thought-provoking journalist after she handled R. Kelly’s neurotic behavior with ease and grace, but now social media in its wave of cancel and un-cancel culture, has come for King’s neck.
The subject is not easy and has many layers, but is there space for legacy and history to cross, or should those intersections stay parallel in the wake of a tragic death?