After a three-year-old tweet in which Los Angeles Lakers 27th-overall pick Larry Nance Jr. called Kobe Bryant a “rapist” went viral on draft night, Nance says he’ll now refer to Kobe as either “Mr. Bryant.”
“Until he says, ‘I’m Kobe to you,’ he’s going to be ‘Mr. Bryant’ and ‘sir,'” Nance told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.
Nance said he deleted the tweet, which he posted in 2012, minutes after he was drafted by the Lakers, but not before it became well publicized:
Nance said he wrote Kobe a long text message apologizing shortly after the tweet went viral. During an interview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill, Kobe said the entire situation was “water under the bridge,” although he was taken back by Nance starting his message with, “Hi Mr. Bryant.”
“The kid figured it out himself,” Bryant said. “He’s a kid, man. He actually sent me a great message [Friday], which is really funny. I looked at it [the message], and it was like, ‘This is when you know it’s about time to hang these things up, when your teammate writes you, Hi, Mr. Bryant.'”
“I was like, ‘What the f***?’ But it was really nice and apologetic about what had happened. I said, ‘Dude, listen. We’ve all said things and done things that we regret and wish we could take back. It’s water under the bridge, man. Welcome to the team.’ He writes back, ‘Thank you, sir.'”
Many people believed the tweet would cause a rift between the Lakers first round selection and their star player. ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne assumed it would be extremely difficult for the two “to get off on the right foot, or any foot at all”:
“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.”
Nance, who said his “stomach was in a knot” and he felt as though he was going to throw up, told Holmes Kobe’s response was exactly what he needed and he couldn’t be more grateful.
The 22-year-old power forward also released a statement on Twitter addressing Lakers fans in an attempt to earn their respect and forgiveness:
“Laker fans.. I know I left a terrible first impression, and I apologise for the entire incident. But I plan to earn your respect by wearing the purple and gold honorably and giving you all I have on and off of the court. Hopefully these next couple of days, weeks, months, I can make you all look past this time and instead look forward to our upcoming season! I’m just ecstatic to be in LA and to play my role in restoring the Lakers to their dominance behind the guidance of my new coaches and teammates!
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