The Los Angeles Lakers picked Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. with the 27th pick in the draft on Thursday night. Shortly after he was selected, a 2012 tweet in which he referenced Kobe Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case and called him a “rapist” started getting passed around on Twitter.
Nance immediately deleted it once he got drafted, but not before it became well publicized:
In 2003 Bryant was charged with sexual assault in Eagle, Colorado. Bryant denied any wrongdoing, and repeatedly said the encounter was consensual. A judge later dismissed the case, and Bryant reached a settlement with the accuser in a civil lawsuit.
At a post-Draft press conference Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak addressed the issue with ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
“I’ve spoken to Larry Nance Jr. with John Black, our public relations director. Really, I’m not in a position to really share information. But it is something that [Nance and Bryant] will have to discuss amongst the two of them. My understanding is that it’s something that happened years ago, and in today’s world, things don’t go away, which really doesn’t make it any less offensive because it was said three, four years ago.”
“This has echoes of Smush Parker saying bad things about Kobe Bryant,” Shelburne said. “He’s obviously going to be sensitive about the situation. I don’t think he’s going to take this very well even if you say it was two or three years ago and even if you say, ‘I’m a different person now and I was a stupid stupid kid back then and I shouldn’t have said it.'”
“I think this is going to be a problem even if they talk it out. It’s going to be hard to get off on the right foot, or any foot at all,” Shelburne said.
Bryant has yet to publicly address the situation.
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