Gayle King Stirs Controversy After Asking Lisa Leslie About Kobe Bryant's Rape Case

Gayle King is criticized for asking Lisa Leslie if Kobe Bryant has a "complicated" legacy due to rape allegations made in the early 2000s

By Cydney Contreras Feb 05, 2020 9:35 PMTags

Gayle King is drawing criticism after questioning the legacy of the late Kobe Bryant in a new interview.

The CBS This Morning host sat down with WNBA player Lisa Leslie on Tuesday to discuss the tragic loss of Kobe, Gianna Bryant and seven others who died in a helicopter crash two weeks ago. At first, the two women talked about the many accomplishments of the Lakers player and Lisa's friendship with him, but conversation soon turned to allegations of rape leveled against Bryant in the early 2000s. Gayle asked, "It's been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?"

"It's not complicated for me at all," Leslie responded. She added that while other male basketball players tried to get her to play wing-man for them, Kobe was "not the kind of guy" who would do that. "Kobe, he was never like that."

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She continued, "I just never see—I have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That's just not the person that I know."

Gayle then rebutted, "But Lisa, you wouldn't see it, though. As his friend you wouldn't see it."

"And that's possible." Lisa asserted, "I just don't believe that, and I'm not saying things didn't happen. I just don't believe that things didn't happen with force." 

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Despite bringing up the allegations, Gayle went on to question if it was "fair" to speculate about the rape allegation so soon after his death, to which Lisa told her: "I think the media should be more respectful at this time. It's like if you had questions about it, you've had many years to ask him that. I don't think it's something that we should keep hanging out his legacy."

Lisa also reminded her the case went to trial, but Gayle quickly stated the case was dismissed "because the victim in the case refused to testify," ultimately resulting in her and Kobe settling out of court. Leslie then concluded, "I think that's how we should leave it."

It must be mentioned Kobe apologized to the then-19-year-old woman who accused him of rape and they settled in a sealed civil lawsuit. He also said in a statement at the time, "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."