NBA star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers has sparked outrage online after he criticized Lebron James and his teammates from the Miami Heat for wearing hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin.
Bryant reportedly tells Ben McGrath in a profile published in the March 31 edition of the New Yorker that Lebron James' decision to post a photo of the Heat players dressed in hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin spoke to a lack of progress. He said he didn't feel obliged to support Martin simply because he is black, according to the excerpt below.
I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African American," he 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? Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society? 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."
The issue was first raised by Jamilah King of Color Lines who took umbrage to Bryant's criticism.
"What sets Bryant apart is his stingy insistence on clinging to a "post-racial" identity, this very old, conservative notion that black people should not be treated differently in this country — despite all of the evidence, like Martin's death, that they are. People didn't stand up for Trayvon Martin just because he was a black boy, they did it because his death so sharply illustrated the dangers of being a black boy in America," wrote King.
Yesha Callahan of Clutch Magazine was a bit more unforgiving with her comments.
"The irony, is that people jumped to Trayvon's defense, because he was murdered by a trigger happy a**hole and it showed just how invaluable a black child's life is. But it's obvious that Bryant forgot how quick people jumped to his defense during his rape case. But of course Rapey Bryant didn't mention any of that," wrote Callahan.
"Bryant loves to brag about how he was raised in Italy and the suburbs of Philly, as if it sets him apart from other black men in this country. But what he fails to realize is that no matter how many rings he has, thanks in part to Shaq, in certain people's eyes, he's just a n-word that can shoot a ball in a basket. He needs to keep his social commentary to himself," she ended.
Bryant, however, did not stop talking about the issue. On Thursday, he tweeted to his 4.5 million followers on Twitter that he believed the justice system failed Trayvon Martin.
"Travon Martin was wronged THAT'S my opinion and that's what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work," he noted.
He also retweeted a tweet from broadcaster Keith Boykin that captured his thoughts on the case last year.
"Just found out @kobebryant posted this on Instagram on July 15 last year, two days after Zimmerman was acquitted," noted Boykin.