“He threw [Shaquille O’Neal] under the bus and he is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country,” said Brown. “[Bryant] doesn’t quite fit what’s happening in America.”
Bryant spent many years of his youth in Italy, where his father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played basketball professionally.
“In the days when we had a summit and we called the top black athletes together to talk to Muhammad Ali about his status with the armed forces, there were some athletes we didn’t call,” said Brown. “If I had to call that summit all over, there would be some athletes I wouldn’t call. Kobe would be one of them.”
Brown’s comment prompted Bryant to reply via Twitter.
A “Global” African American is an inferior shade to “American” African Americans?? #hmm.. that doesn’t sound very #Mandela or #DrKing sir
Bryant also addressed the topic after practice Thursday.
“It surprised me in the sense that it just came out of left field. I’ve never even met him,” Bryant said of Brown. “I do think it’s a great opportunity to have these conversations, to have this discussion.”
Why did he choose to respond to Brown publicly?
“If it’s a major issue that involves equality or the perception of racial equality, I feel like that’s something that . . . needs to be addressed,” Bryant said. “Obviously it’s a sensitive topic for everybody but I think the best thing to do is not dance around it.
“Ultimately, the conversation is that it doesn’t matter what color skin you are,” continued the Lakers All-Star. “I think it’s a good place to start, to have a good conversation and try to educate one another and try to improve as a society because of it.”
Would he like the opportunity to sit down and talk with Brown?
“There’s nothing to talk about. We have different perception, different views on it, clearly,” Bryant said. “What I’m trying to do is educate our youth going forward, no matter what color skin you are, African American, white, whatever the case may be.
“For he and I, there’s no reason for us to have a conversation. We’re completely on the opposite sides of the spectrum. I’m an old dog, but he’s a much older dog. He’s probably a lot more set in his ways than I am.”
Brown’s summit in 1967 with Ali included Bill Russell and future Lakers Hall-of-Famer Lew Alcindor, who would change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.