During the interview, King asked Leslie “It’s been said that [Kobe’s] legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge – is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?”
Leslie responded that it was “not complicated for [her] at all,” because she’s “never seen [Kobe] being the type of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That was just never the person that I know.”
However, King continued to press Leslie for answers.
“You wouldn’t see it, though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it.”
While Leslie admitted that was “possible”, she still continued to defend Bryant, stating that she “just [doesn’t] believe that.” She also said that the media should be “more respectful at this time”, in regards to bringing up Bryant’s past.
She said to King, “If you had questions about it, you had many years to ask him that.
“I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.”
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 4, 2020
After receiving widespread backlash for the interview, King released the following statement:
“I understand why people are upset seeing that clip out of context. I hope they will now watch the entire wide-ranging interview. We asked a longtime friend of Kobe Bryant’s to talk to us about his legacy and their friendship, and Lisa did exactly that.”
The sexual assault charge was dropped in 2004 and Bryant apologized to his accuser.
He stated, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view that incident the same way I did.”
Snoop Dogg, a longtime friend of Bryant’s, slammed King in a video posted on his social media.
“Gayle King, you’re out of pocket for that s—” he said.
“Way out of pocket. What do you gain from that? We expect more from you Gayle. Don’t you hang out with Oprah [Winfrey]? Why are you all attacking us? We’re your people. You don’t come after Harvey Weinstein, asking those dumba– questions. I’m sick of y’all. Funky doghead b—-. How dare you try to torch my homeboy’s reputation, punk motherf—–. Respect the family and back off, b—-, before we come get you.”
Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were tragically killed in a helicopter crash on January 26.
Seven other people also died in the crash. The helicopter was transporting them to a girls’ basketball competition at Bryant’s Mamba Academy. While the cause of the crash has not been determined, it is believed that foggy weather conditions were a contributing factor.
News of his death shocked friends and fans worldwide, with many celebrities posting tributes to the Lakers star. Bryant’s wife Vanessa recently posted a heartbreaking tribute to her late daughter.
The caption reads, “My Gigi. I love you! I miss you. You’ve taught us all that no act of kindness is ever too small. Mommy is still and will ALWAYS be so proud of you mamacita.”