Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant offered his perspective on the reaction by many toward the Trayvon Martin case in a recent interview with New Yorker, and quickly found himself caught up in a media firestorm.
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” the NBA player said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense?
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Bryant then expanded on the progress made by African-Americans.
“Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society?” he asked. “Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”
Bryant was being asked about a tweet by fellow NBA star LeBron James in March 2012, posted just a few weeks after Martin was killed:
#WeAreTrayvonMartin #Hoodies #Stereotyped #WeWantJustice http://t.co/tH6baAVo
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 23, 2012
The reaction to Bryant was swift, with more than one member of the media weighing in, including ESPN’s Jemele Hill and News One host Roland Martin:
My issue is that Kobe reduces the Trayvon Martin outrage to blind racial solidarity, when it was about so much more than that.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) March 27, 2014
Remember when @JimBrownNFL32 took heat for blasting @kobebryant? Jim knew what he was talking about. Kobe is clueless about #TrayvonMartin.
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) March 27, 2014
Bryant would eventually feel compelled to defend himself amid all the criticism being directed at him:
Travon Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and thats what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 27, 2014
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