Kobe Bryant wins Oscar in time of #MeToo despite past assault allegation

Lauren Tuck
·News Editor

On Sunday night, Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for Best Animated Short for Dear Basketball, which is based on a poem he wrote in 2015 after announcing his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers.

In his acceptance speech, the five-time NBA championship winner took a dig at Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham: “As basketball players, we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that,” he said.

However, while the athlete’s win and dig is being celebrated by some, many are also noting the fact that it comes at a time when the entertainment industry is empowered by the #MeToo movement and most attendees are wearing #TimesUp pins. Meanwhile, Bryant was accused of and arrested for sexual assault.

In 2003, a 19-year-old hotel employee in Eagle, Colo., claimed she was raped by the former NBA player. According to court documents, what started as consensual kissing quickly escalated. “Putting his hands on me, grabbing my butt, my chest. Trying to lift up my skirt. Proceeded to take off his own pants. Trying to grab my hand and make me touch him,” she said.

“He lifted up my skirt, took off my underwear and, and came inside me,” she told police. “Then he leaned his face toward mine and asked me if I liked it when a guy came on my face, I said no. Then he was like, “What did you say?” Grabbed and like tightened his hold on my neck, I said no. He said he was gonna do it anyway.”

Bryant initially denied any interaction with the victim when he was first questioned by the police. He later was informed that she had submitted to a physical exam, and then he claimed that the encounter was consensual. Bryant, however, continued to deny the accusation of sexual assault.

The case against Bryant was dismissed after the accuser opted not to testify. A civil case was settled out of court. “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” Bryant stated through his lawyer. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

While Bryant’s alleged crimes happened more than a decade ago and have largely been overlooked for the past few years — especially when it comes to celebrating his basketball achievements — many on social media couldn’t help but notice the inconsistency of the Academy Awards honoring both #MeToo and an accused rapist.

The hypocrisy of Bryant’s win — and presence in general — is notable, too, because men like James Franco, Casey Affleck, Kevin Spacey, and more have been ostracized from Hollywood as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct against them.

As the Los Angeles Times writer Robin Abcarian put it, “Why are the sexual misdeeds of some men forgivable, while others are not?”

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Disclosure: Verizon, Oath’s parent company (which Yahoo Lifestyle is a part of), distributed the film Dear Basketball.