(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
Just when you thought that all you would have to put up from Kobe Bryant was ball-hogging, a Daniel-San follow-through on his jump shot and his once proud franchise struggling to make the playoffs, out comes a case of ‘He said, Mailman said’.
This chapter of ‘How Kobe Bryant Wrecked a Promising Career’ begins with the revelation Bryant made last week on the radio that Karl Malone revealed to him that the Mailman would be retiring this year.
Kobe said that Karl hadn’t made his intentions clear to the franchise and it was hurting his team and a distraction to have to wait on a player that might not show up.
It was then reported that Karl got his feelings hurt, felt betrayed by Kobe, and now refuses to play with the Boy Wonder.
It seems Malone made those statements to Kobe in confidence, as a teammate and friend. Remember, last year when Kobe was flying back and forth to Eagle Colorado to fight for his innocence in the rape trial, Karl was the only Laker supportive of him.
I guess a rape trial and constantly flying back and forth wasn’t a distraction at all last year.
So, Kobe pays the Mailman back for his loyalty by blabbing on the radio what Karl told him in confidence and then Sunday accuses him of trying to hit on Mrs. ‘Four-Million-Dollar-Please-Forgive-Me-For-Cheating-On-You-Ring’ Bryant.
Does this seem a little freaky to you? It does me.
Never mind the fact that the Mailman is a self-professed family man, happily married with never any hint of bad behavior in his 40 years as an NBA star. Sure, he played in Utah forever, but he could have found trouble if he wanted.
What I remember most about Mailman is that he was like a moving brick wall on the court. I recall one game when Utah was playing Detroit with Isaiah Thomas, and Thomas was on the business end of one of Malone’s sharp elbows.
Of course, Thomas took offense, and acted like he was going to charge Malone while being safely held back by his teammates. Malone just looked at Thomas, smiled, and stomped the floor like he was crushing a bug.
I thought it was genius. I never liked Malone much, but after he put Thomas in his place, he had my respect.
This is the second time Bryant has publicly accused a teammate of infidelities.You’ll remember that he said Shaq had a hush fund to keep all the Diesel’s paramours from spilling the beans about illicit affairs.
Right or wrong, if he keeps this up no one except for NBDL scrubs will want to suit up with him. You’ve heard of the Blue Wall, where police officers defend their own and take care of matters amongst themselves. Without that trust, how will his teammates ever be confident in Kobe when things get tough?
I’m not saying adultery is ok, I’m just saying that CuKo, shouldn’t be airing all this dirty laundry.
If you have read what the conversation was between Malone and Vanessa, you’ll come away with one or two revelations. First, Malone, (who is old enough to be Vanessa’s pops) was just kidding around, engaging in some good-natured ribbing of a friend’s wife. Something that most of us with married friends do with regularity.
Malone had his son with him for Naismith’s sake! Do you think he was trying to score some strange with a potential witness beside him? Not me.
I also came away thinking that Vanessa was acting her age. Causing drama, like most bored young girls like to do, and keeping her name in the paper. Maybe she’s just trying to defend her man-boy by bringing to light that other NBA players cheat, and some even want to with her.
Or possibly this is just karma coming around and blocking one of KoKo’s shots. He did cheat on his pregnant wife after all, so maybe his penance is to worry about which 6’8” guy is hitting on his wife now.
Maybe next time he checks, the daddy will be handing Mrs. Bryant some hush money.