TAMPA (CBS TAMPA) — Kobe Bryant has walked back comments he made in a recent interview criticizing those who immediately came to the defense of Trayvon Martin without having the facts of the case. In a Twitter post responding to the viral reaction from his own comments, the NBA superstar said “the facts showed” that the dead teenager “was wronged.”
The Los Angeles Laker tweeted on Thursday: “Travon Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and that’s what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts.”
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 27, 2014
In an interview to be published in full on Mar. 31, Bryant spoke with the New Yorker’s Ben McGrath about the knee-jerk racial reaction that came from many simply because they were African-American.
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” Bryant told the magazine.
“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… 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 criticized the Miami Heat’s collective siding with Martin, notably the team’s pose for a picture in hoodies similar to the one the Florida teen was wearing the night of the deadly encounter between Martin and George Zimmerman.
A barrage of social media and online ridicule was launched at Bryant for his refusal to side with Martin.
Jamilah King at Colorlines blasted Bryant for his “stingy insistence on clinging to a ‘post-racial’ identity, this very old, conservative notion that black people should not be treated differently in this country – despite all of the evidence, like Martin’s death, that they are.”
Jim Brown told the New Yorker he thought Bryant was “somewhat confused about culture” because he was grew up in Italy before going on to play high school basketball near Philadelphia.
MSNBC commentator and BET columnist Keith Boykin joined many in defense of Bryant, with the Laker retweeting their support of his advancing a reasonable “discussion” on the issue. Boykin pointed out that Bryant had weighed in on the topic before.
Two days after Zimmerman was acquitted on July 15 of last year, Bryant posted an Instagram quoting Frederick Douglass, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”