Another idol topples |

Another idol topples

Don Rogers

Kobe Bryant’s wholesome image buckled with his tearful admission of adultery.

The NBA’s brightest lights have engaged in this sort of room service for a long, long time. At least Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson were unmaried.

Even Michael Jordan, well wedded, had his road dalliances.

What a way to Be Like Mike.

It’s a lawyer’s convention to have the client admit guilt only after ironclad proof. Still, Bryant waxing emotional, voice quavering, tears streaming, wife’s hand in his, reminded a national audience of no one so much as Bill Clinton. Not a good thing.

He confessed adultery to an incident that happened and ended about as quickly as he could set his suitcase down and unpack. Not a lot of time there to exactly fall in love.

Room service, indeed. How much separation between consenting adults and a blonde servant suddenly having second thoughts? This question and worse will dog the young man – he’s only 24, remember – for the rest of his life.

If District Attorney Mark Hurlbert proves Bryant committed the crime of outright rape, this fall from grace will rival O.J. Simpson’s.

Even if this really was a one-time weak moment in the hinterlands exaggerated greatly by a girl with her own issues in life, the golden kid is tarnished and quite rightly.

Never mind that Americans love to venerate and then topple their celebrities. Or that casual adultery is most un-McDonald’s, to say the least, even if there’s a dubious “street cred” to be gained for Nike.

It wouldn’t be the first time a nation let itself be fooled by a super clean image. It won’t be the last. We should know better by now. Want to bet whether the lesson will stick? Here it is again: Image is nothing.

The pampered pro athlete’s standard sin on the road doesn’t rank as a crime, though. There’s a long road from charges to possible conviction.

In the meantime, the county, the young woman, the justice system here, all of us can expect a lot of scrutiny from a nation that just doesn’t want to believe it. They’ll find plenty to fault, too. The greatest place to ski in the world will also be known as the rube county that took down the great Kobe Bryant.

The truth is, though, he did it to himself, to his team, to his fans, to his family who suddenly have become so dear to him. He just happened to get caught here in a most unwholesome act at best, and believing he was big enough to have his way and get away with it at worst.

Residents here, some who are national figures themselves, do give celebrities breathing room. But allegations of crimes are not among the things they overlook.


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