Kobe Bryant is the subject of a sobering New Yorker profile that follows the basketball icon as he enters the waning days of his playing career. Bryant takes aim at the Miami Heat during an interview. Not for anything basketball related, but rather, oddly, for the team's public tribute to slain Miami-Dade teenager Trayvon Martin.
Back in March 2012, LeBron James posted a photo on Instagram of 13 heat players donning hoodies with the hashtags #WeAreTrayvonMartin, #Hoodies, #Stereotyped and #WeWantJustice:
In 2013, after George Zimmerman avoided a guilty verdict, Dwyane Wade took his thoughts to Twitter.
"Wow!!! Stunned!!! Saddened as a father!!! Some1 make sense of this verdict for me right now please!!! Don't worry I'll wait...," he wrote. "How do I explain this to my young boys????"
"@DwyaneWade there is no such thing as justice," wrote Heat owner Micky Arison in a reply. "Life is not fair. U just do the best u can. Hug those kids & tell them u love them."
Writer Ben McGrath asked Bryant how he felt about the photo:
"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."
Bryant apparently though failed to realize that Martin lived in Miami-Dade County and his killer was let go under a controversial Florida law, and that many Miami Heat players are raising their own young sons in Florida. It seems easy to us to see that the Heat player's reaction wasn't just all about race, but also about the local community and their fears for their own children as well.
Former NFL running back Jim Brown is quoted later in the article, expelling that, "[Kobe] is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country." Bryant of course spent chunks of his childhood in Italy where his father played professional basketball.
Bryant took offense to those comments on Twitter.
No Heat player has yet commented on Bryant's views.