Kobe Bryant added an Oscar Award to his already impressive trophy case, but the NBA superstar-turned-businessman and now executive producer also received a fair share of criticisms after people were reminded of the sexual assault allegations thrown against him 15 years ago.
Unforgiving critics thought Kobe’s Oscar win at the 90th Academy Awards for Dear Basketball went against the #MeToo and Time’s Up theme of the evening, Fox News reported. A number of Twitter users lambasted the two-time Olympian as the rape accusation lodged against Bryant in 2003 was brought to light. Others blasted the Academy for forgetting about Kobe’s sexual assault allegations despite supposedly overlooking other celebrities for their rumored misdeeds.
“So Harvey Weinstein gets kicked out of Hollywood and Kobe Bryant gets two jerseys retired and wins an Oscar in the same #MeToo year,” tweeted sports journalist Clay Travis. “Simply amazing.”
“Hi everyone. Can someone explain to me why we all pretend that Kobe Bryant wasn’t credibly accused of rape,” asked Jeanne Kozelek.
“Kobe forgot to thank Father Time for giving him 15 years between the Colorado incident and #MeToo,” tweeted stand-up comedian Christian Finnegan.
“People say that rape allegations will ruin a man’s life but here is Kobe winning an Oscar in front of my eyes,” podcaster Aminatou Sow said.
Dana Schwartz of Entertainment Weekly chimed in saying, “So we’re all just… ignoring the whole Kobe rape accusation thing I guess huh?”
Controversy surrounded Bryant immediately after Dear Basketball was named as one of the nominees for Best Animated Short Film at the 2018 Oscar Awards, as reported in another Inquisitr article.
Bryant, 39, was only 24-years-old when he was accused of rape by a 19-year-old woman, who was working at the hotel where Kobe was staying. The former NBA MVP was in Edwards, Colorado, at the time preparing for surgery when, according to Bryant, he had an adulterous sexual encounter with the woman.
Bryant escaped possible jail time after his accuser refused to testify, resulting in the dismissal of the case. The two sides eventually agreed on a settlement and Bryant agreed to release a public apology. In his statement, Kobe admitted that he erred in thinking that the sex act between him and the woman was consensual.
“I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” Bryant said. “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.”
Despite the controversy, a number of fans and other personalities, particularly from the NBA community, showered Bryant with praises for his achievement.
Former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal tweeted that he was proud of Kobe for receiving the “big honor,” and that he was jealous of him. Magic Johnson also congratulated Kobe on Twitter saying the award was “well deserved.”
LeBron James also took the opportunity to take a shot at controversial Fox News host Laura Ingraham as he congratulated Kobe for his Oscar win.
Bryant’s acceptance speech got a bit political as he took a shot at Ingraham, as well.
“I don’t know if it’s possible,” Bryant said. “I mean, as basketball players, we are really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I am glad we do a little bit more than that.”
Dear Basketball is based on the poem Bryant wrote in 2015, according to ESPN. The poem talked about his then-impending retirement from professional basketball. Bryant and Disney animator Glen Keane accepted their Oscar Awards from Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame.