Update: December 12, 2013 Los Angeles, CA:
Straight from Bryant's Twitter feed: "A "Global" African American is an inferior shade to "American" African Americans?? #hmm.. that doesn't sound very #Mandela or #DrKing sir"
Back to you, Jim. Original story follows:
Jim Brown, NFL Hall of Fame running back and political activist has set off a bit of a storm once again. This time it was what he said about Kobe Bryant in comments made during an appearance yesterday on a talk show hosted by Arsenio Hall.
Brown said when asked his opinion of Kobe Bryant, "He threw Shaq under the bus," as he began a harsh critique of the 35 year-old star of the Los Angeles Lakers.
His remarks are pointed and relate to nasty personal history between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant that dates back more than ten years.Insiders and those close to the men have whispered about Kobe breaking the "man code" with respect to extra-marital activity on the part of O'Neal.
Does Jim Brown know that even Shaquille O'Neal has let all that go?
Brown went on to say that Kobe "...is similarly confused about culture because he was brought up in another country. So it doesn't quite fit what's happening here in America. Unbelievable athlete. Unbelievable."
The confusion Brown speaks of seems to center on the lack of what the HOF'er sees as Bryant's ability to grasp the essence of the black American experience.
Kobe Bryant was born in Pennsylvania and raised there until the age of six when his family moved to Italy. Bryant and his family moved back to the states when he was 13.
He attended Lower Merion High School, outside Philadelphia, where Kobe became a basketball phenom, before being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers straight out of school.
Brown harkened back to a summit of black athletes convened by Brown and others in 1967. 46 years ago, a group assembled for a discussion with Muhammad Ali about the legal and career ramifications of the boxer's choice to claim conscientious objector status rather than take part in the military draft.
If that happened today, Brown opined, Kobe wouldn't be invited to attend.
It's striking that Brown can infer from Bryant's life, both public and private, that the Lakers star wouldn't have the bonafides to make it in an august group of today, to support an important African American athlete as he took an unpopular stand considered anti-establishment and politically radical.
Kobe is a product of his time. He may have experienced racial discrimination and hatred, but it doesn't amount to much compared to the athletes assembled for that summit, held only a couple of years after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Some might say that whether Kobe and his family remained in and around the burbs of Philadelphia, with no detour to Europe he'd be the same guy he is today.
Might it have more to do with Joe Bryant, Kobe's father, providing a living that enabled his family to reside outside inner cities, allowed his children to attend decent schools and see possibilities for their adulthood?
Many have put Tiger Woods in the category Brown has placed Bryant, with his father's singular ambition for his son to be the best golfer in the world. There has been criticism throughout the years hurled at Michael Jordan for taking no strong position on political and social issues.
But who is going to tell Jim Brown to shut up? The man is entitled to his opinion, just as Kobe Bryant is allowed to live his life in his own way.
What's your take on Brown's criticism of Kobe?