Leslie’s remarks about Bryant’s ‘complicated’ legacy begin at 3:55-mark in video above
Gayle King's interview with Lisa Leslie isn't going over well with some viewers. On CBS This Morning, King asked the WNBA legend about her friendship with Kobe Bryant. Leslie, 47, met the Los Angeles Lakers star when she was 18 and the two remained close until his death on Jan. 26. During their sit down, King asked Leslie about Bryant's "complicated" legacy.
"It's been said that his legacy is complicated, because of a sexual assault charge, which was dismissed in 2003, 2004," King said during the Tuesday interview. "Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?"
"It's not complicated for me at all," Leslie said. "Even if there's a few times that we've been at a club at the same time, Kobe's not the kind of guy, never been like, 'Lis, go get that girl, or tell her, or send her this.' I have other NBA friends that are like that. Kobe, he was never like that."
A 19-year-old hotel worker accused Bryant of sexual assault in 2003. Leslie said he is not "the kind of person that" would "do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That's just not the person that I know."
King pushed back, "But Lisa you wouldn't see it, though. As his friend, you wouldn't see it."
"And that's possible," Leslie replied. "I just don't believe that. And I'm not saying things didn't happen. I just don't believe that things [happened] with force.”
Charges against Bryant were dropped in 2004 and he publicly apologized to his accuser. "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did," he said in a statement. They later settled in a sealed civil lawsuit.
"Is it even a fair question to talk about it, considering he's no longer with us and that it was resolved," King asked. "Or is it really part of his history?"
"I think that the media should be more respectful at this time," Leslie declared. "It's like, if you had questions about it, you've had many years to ask him that. I don't think it's something that we should keep hanging over his legacy. I mean, he went to — it went to trial."
"Yeah, but the case — it was dismissed because the victim in the case refused to testify, so it was dismissed," King stated.
"And I think that that's how we should leave it," Leslie maintained.
.@WNBA legend @LisaLeslie told @GayleKing that Kobe Bryant's legacy is "not complicated" for her despite his 2003 rape accusation.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 4, 2020
"I don't think it's something that we should keep hanging over his legacy." https://t.co/qj6MVvOaqX pic.twitter.com/9qtVORobLO
King received backlash for her questions, with 50 Cent and singer Ari Lennox weighing in. The journalist’s best friend, Oprah Winfrey, was also mentioned a lot given her involvement in a documentary about sexual misconduct allegations against Russell Simmons.
👀what is this, wait somebody gotta help me understand why they keep doing this. 🤷🏽♂️i apologize for my language in advance let’s talk about this. pic.twitter.com/zpKu58SQwc— 50cent (@50cent) February 5, 2020
Harvey Weinstein is still alive but Gayle rather ask old rape allegation questions about a man who just died last week? pic.twitter.com/Dq3zAZWudB— Cookie Baba Yaga (@Cookiebaby23) February 5, 2020
Gayle King tried it. Kobe is not even in the ground. Nobody is thinking about what happened in 2003. Yes it's a blemish in his legacy but why continue to harp on it? She acting like he was Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein. pic.twitter.com/entF58Y4hO— Kevin Simmons (@TheSkorpion) February 5, 2020
Gayle King and Oprah seem to go after certain stories without class , but ignore the stories involving their Hollywood friends. You bring up something about Kobe right after his death for ratings or relevance? Kobe Bryant has passed away and journalist lack class #KobeBryant pic.twitter.com/W69lpwZofA— Horace Towns (@thehoracetowns) February 5, 2020
Kobe Bryant’s rape case was dismissed a decade ago. Why wait until he dies to ask Lisa Leslie (who has nothing to do with the case) questions about his legacy pertaining his rape case? Why not ask him when he was still here? Why not ask the victim?— 💫✨WOO (@TheJessieWoo) February 5, 2020
Oprah & Gayle are both promoting the Kobe, Michael Jackson, & Russell Simmons allegations, but can’t seem seem to remember the guy who is currently standing trial.— PrometheusRisesAgain (@prometheus50K) February 5, 2020
Show me video of Oprah or Gayle badgering one of Harvey Weinstein’s acquaintances the way Gayle did Lisa Leslie? pic.twitter.com/mRA9lfPE8R
Gayle King has me on 10 right now!! Why you didn’t ask any of the shi* when Kobe was living!! So disrespectful and inappropriate!! FOH!!! SMMFH!!— Rickey Smiley (@RickeySmiley) February 5, 2020
Leslie has been praised for how she handled herself, with Vivica A. Fox thanking the WNBA star for her "amazing support" of Bryant.
Lisa Leslie just taught y’all how to cuss somebody out without using profanity.— You Know My Name (@LookAtDustin) February 5, 2020
Lisa Leslie handled this very considering how disrespectful this was. Congrats on keeping your composure @LisaLeslie while @GayleKing tried to use inappropriate questions to push her rape narratives of prominent black male figures. https://t.co/QJmrWe9YHS— CryptographyAC_ (@CryptographyAC_) February 5, 2020
@GayleKing’s interview w/ @LisaLeslie is just mind boggling. Why ask questions like that with someone so close to him at a time like this? Can’t even believe it came out of her mouth. Just like Lisa said, there was PLENTY of time to ask questions and pass judgement. Now is not it— Kylie Fischer (@kyfischie) February 5, 2020
Lisa Leslie handled that interview very well— Ms.Chun Li The Street Fighter (@nikkoluvsu) February 5, 2020
Leslie hasn’t weighed in further. In a statement to USA Today, King said,
"I understand why people are upset seeing that clip out of context. I hope they will now watch the entire wide-ranging interview. We asked a longtime friend of Kobe Bryant’s to talk to us about his legacy and their friendship and Lisa Leslie did exactly that."
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