Inside the NBA invaded Today recently when hosts Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal sat down to discuss their friend Kobe Bryant. The death the basketball icon hasn’t been removed from headlines since news broke on January 26 that Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven their friends all perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif.
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The last two weeks have been filled with people remembering Kobe with kind words and condolences, but controversy kicks up dust whenever anyone mentions the 2003 scandal where the basketball star was accused rape by a 19-year-old hotel employee. The case never went to trial because the woman refused to testify, but she did file a civil lawsuit that was settled privately. Bryant also had to issue a public apology where he stated he truly believed their ual encounter was consensual, but he recognized that she didn’t.
Recently, Gayle King caught international heat after a clip her interview with Lisa Leslie went viral. King probed Leslie about her opinion on Kobe’s accusations, causing many to drag her on social media. The Inside the NBA hosts were asked if they believed, as journalists, it was inappropriate for King to raise those questions so soon after his death. Kenny Smith spoke at length about Kobe’s influence and how we’re all “imperfect people,” but it was Charles Barkley’s remarks that stirred up controversy.
“Kobe Bryant is one the greatest basketball players, ever, and he had a flaw that we all know about,” Barkley said. “You have to tell the picture in totality. We’re not trying to make 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.”
People accused Barkley betraying his friend to satisfy the media. Others wondered if Barkley would receive the same level backlash as King. Watch the clip and check out a few reactions below.