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Sharper Point: The final (and most important) Kobe legacy

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant watch during day 2 of the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships at the Woollett Aquatics Center on July 26, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

On Monday’s Arizona’s Morning News, former Phoenix Suns great Dan Majerle talked to Jayme West and me about Kobe Bryant’s legacy. Bryant was killed, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, in a helicopter crash outside L.A. on Sunday.

Majerle, who played – and coached – against Bryant, told me Kobe was worthy of being mentioned with legendary names like Jordan, Bird and Magic.

I submit to you that while Kobe Bryant was a basketball legend, his accompanying legacy is a little more complicated to sort through and can’t be solely encapsulated in his NBA accomplishments. 

Those accomplishments were amazing, though: five NBA championships; league, Finals and All-Star MVP awards; most points scored in two different NBA seasons.

Because Kobe was that good, it was shocking to hear about his death.

But just as shocking for me was hearing from a female relative who was the victim of a sexual assault awhile back. She called me in tears because she felt the media was only talking about how great Kobe was on the court – and NOT about the not-so-great things he was involved in off the court.

In 2003, he was (quite famously) accused of raping an employee of a Colorado mountain resort where he was staying.

Yes, the case was dismissed — but questions remained because Bryant settled out of court with his accuser.

Then, he dropped even more money on a giant “I’m sorry” diamond ring that he gave his wife for being unfaithful. Bryant never said he was guilty of raping the resort employee but he did admit to sex with her, making him, at the least, an adulterer.

Majerle told me this chapter of Bryant’s life shouldn’t necessarily be a part of his overall legacy.

I don’t agree. But I also don’t think Majerle feels that way because he thinks to say otherwise would be running afoul of the social no-no of speaking ill of the dead. Instead, I think it’s because the death of Kobe Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, brings up certain emotions.

Maybe besmirching the father of this beautiful, talented girl doesn’t feel right. Or maybe it’s because Majerle, like me, has daughters. And hoped (or knew) that because Kobe also did, he changed his ways – and his heart.

Dan knows that looking into the eyes of a little girl who looks up to you changes a man’s soul. I never assaulted a woman, but having daughters sure made me regret my sleazy single years – and made me vow to be a better man.

In the public eye, Kobe did a lot of charitable work. A lot.

Maybe he also did a lot of work on himself in his personal life. I hope he was able to gaze into his daughter’s eyes one last time yesterday, knowing that he was finally an example to her of the kind of life partner she deserved.

A life partner, that quite sadly, Gianna Bryant will never have the opportunity to find.

Arizona's Morning News