It’s NBA All-Star Weekend, and while the league’s best players converge in Chicago, the death of Kobe Bryant nearly three weeks ago is what’s on everyone’s mind.
Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson from TNT’s “Inside the NBA” sat down with “Today” show’s Craig Melvin to discuss Bryant’s legacy.
Barkley brought up the 2003 rape case against Bryant, which was later dismissed.
“Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players ever and he had a flaw that we all know about,” Barkley said. “You have to tell the picture in totality. We’re not trying to make Kobe out to be no hero. We’re celebrating his basketball excellence. We understand what happened in Colorado. That’s fair, but two things can be true.”
He later said the news of his death did make him very emotional.
“And for me, me and Kobe were not close but I just started crying when I got the news. I felt like I had lost a member of my family,” Barkley shared.
Smith chimed in to say “we’re all imperfect people,” and added, “So that’s what people saw…he challenges people. So do I think it was appropriate or inappropriate? We all are imperfect, but I think what he has done, and challenged the world to be, we all saw it.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Shaq later said. “I was at the house the day it happened and my son brought me the thing. You know how the internet is. Stop playing with me, get out of my face with that right now. Just stop and then I got the calls. A guy who helped me become as big as I am, and we will always be forever linked.”
Earlier this week, Kobe’s wife Vanessa shared an emotional update on Instagram about her struggles to cope with the death of her husband and daughter, Gianna.
I’ve been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri. I know what I’m feeling is normal. It’s part of the grieving process. I just wanted to share in case there’s anyone out there that’s experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over. Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all.