What a difference a day makes

MSNBC on 12/29:

Like it or not, Kobe has cleared his name
2½ years since sexual encounter, Lakers star has resurrected public image

In the decades of Monday Night Football, celebrities ranging from John Lennon to Ronald Reagan surprised viewers by popping into the announcers’ booth. But their visits may have seemed commonplace in comparison to the guest who appeared via satellite during halftime of the Green Bay-Baltimore blowout this month: Kobe Bryant.

Interviewed by Al Michaels, Bryant deftly helped promote the NBA’s marquee Christmas Day matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. Viewers must have wondered if their Tivo was going haywire – after all, the last time Bryant was watched by a national television audience away from his beloved basketball court, he looked grim in numerous clips as he fought to stay out of prison after being accused of rape in Colorado in 2003.

Today, 2½ years since an admitted sexual encounter with a resort employee at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, the Laker guard — along with ABC/ESPN, the NBA and Nike — is attempting to resurrect his public image in a very public manner.

Consider: ESPN featured NBA players, including Bryant in 15- and 30-second spots before the season in a campaign to promote the virtues of the league. And ESPN and ABC, both owned by Walt Disney Co., are definitely embracing Bryant as the Lakers will be featured on national telecasts more than 30 times this season, tops in the NBA, and it’s not because broadcast executives are salivating over the moves of rookie guard Von Wafer.

MSNBC on 12/30

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was suspended for two games without pay Friday for elbowing Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies in the throat.

Bryant was called for a flagrant foul for elbowing Miller with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter in Wednesday night’s 100-99 overtime loss to the Grizzlies. He is scheduled to serve his suspension Sunday, when the Lakers host Utah, and Tuesday, when Los Angeles plays at the Jazz.

“Very surprised. Shocked, actually. Very, very surprised,” Bryant said after practice Friday. “Angry and frustrated. I’ve been hit with a couple of flagrant fouls already this year. I’ve been hit with a clothesline and no suspensions come of that. and I get two games for this?”


The suspension was just the latest in a series of nastiness from Bryant … although most of it has been directed at teammates.

The New York Post said people sitting near L.A.’s bench for the Rockets and Wizards games were flabbergasted at the things he screamed at his teammates.

The Post also reported Friday more about a major confrontation between Bryant and teammate Lamar Odom after the Lakers’ loss at Washington.

The confrontation reportedly led to smashing of lights and damaging of a TV monitor belonging to the Lakers’ flagship station in front of the visitors’ locker room.

Bryant was angry at Odom for supposedly botching a pick-and-roll that was to set up a three-point shot for Bryant that could have tied the game, the Post said.

The newspaper said as the pair got closer to the Lakers’ dressing room, Bryant was yelling at Odom. Odom yelled back and that’s when Bryant reportedly went after Odom. In doing so, The Post said Bryant kicked over the lights and a chair holding the TV monitor. The newspaper said Bryant’s security force of two quickly intervened and separated the pair.

The Post said they again exchanged heated words and challenges in the locker room and that the tension was so intense one of the security guys accompanied Odom to the back of the charter bus and sat nearby on the trip to the airport while the other sat in the front with Kobe, the last member of the Lakers to board.

That was quick.

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