One year after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Feb. 2012, members of the Miami Heat posed for a memorable photo in which each player wore a hoodie. It was a strong political statement from perhaps the most followed sports team in the country.
— Shawn (@HoopsTalk_Shawn) February 26, 2013
In an upcoming feature in The New Yorker, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant had some interesting and provocative thoughts about why he wasn't as vocal or visible as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and other Heat players regarding Martin's death.
"I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African-American. That argument doesn't make any sense to me,” Bryant told reporter Ben McGrath when asked about the Heat photo. “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.”
It is important to note that Bryant isn't saying he believes George Zimmerman was innocent, just that he wasn't willing to take a side until he knew enough to do so. (The Heat's photo was taken four months before the start of the trial.) Bryant clarified his thoughts Thursday with this tweet:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 27, 2014
Bryant has found himself at odds with some members of the African-American community before. In December, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown said Bryant was "confused" about African-American culture, partly because Bryant was raised in Italy.
Bryant, who has never met Brown, said the comments came out of "left field" and offered this tweet in response:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) December 12, 2013