The Economics of an Affair 

The Economics of an Affair

Hodaka Kajita for SBS

In true Shakespearean fashion, Kobe Bryant and his accuser have set the stage. In all of Shakespeare's plays, there is always an agenda and nothing is ever certain. This holds merit concerning the Kobe Bryant case. His accuser, a white upper middle-class college student, is known to be ambitious and emotional, a Lady Macbeth without the Macbeth or should I say, Bryant.

American mainstream society as a whole was surprised with the sexual assault charges against Kobe Bryant and his confession of committing adultery because of the "good boy" image he has created for himself. His endorsements represented this. Sprite runs a commercial of him being a hard worker and McDonalds has him asking to play a game of "pickup" basketball with children, whom of course look up to him in awe.

Bryant made approximately $20-$22 million in endorsements prior to the charges. For the moment, Kobe Bryant commercials are not being aired although not all his endorsements have been revoked. It is clear that Bryant's actions have contradicted the image we saw on television everyday.

There is talk that Nike offered him "only" $45 million compared to LeBron James' $90 million. The reason behind this disparity is that LeBron James embodies more of an urban, inner-city image that appeals to a large contingent that shares the same background. Couple this with the fact that LeBron James is the most hyped and sought after commodity in the history of the NBA. Amazingly, James has yet to play a single minute in a regular season game.

Bryant comes from a privileged background, having traveled the world, learn a foreign language, and being the son of a former NBA player, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. Kobe Bryant played sports liberally as they were available. He does not have, what is called "street credibility," on his resume. Unlike many African American NBA players, Kobe Bryant did not experience economic hardship growing up nor was he surrounded by crime. The accusation of sexual assault will not deem him "hardcore" and be accepted by the "street." The fact that such a speculation is considered shows how sad American society is. It says that crime does pay and how society still associates specific crimes with specific ethnic groups.

Kobe Bryant is put in a situation similar to that of O.J. Simpson where the accusations against him refute his reputation as an outstanding citizen. Even if all charges of sexual assault are dropped, he has admitted to adultery. Although he won't see jail time for that, he will suffer the loss of millions of endorsement dollars and "street credibility" will not save him, if he decides to go that route. And only when the trial is over can he go that route, which he won't, trust me.

"What was Kobe thinking?" is a familiar undertone of most people following the case. Here is a player who had everything going for him. Married to a beautiful wife and on his way to becoming the next Jordan, Kobe Bryant seemingly has wasted away a very promising career for a few concupiscent minutes. Or was it just a few minutes? No, I am not questioning Kobe Bryant's vitality in bed. Could it be that this woman whom he had "consensual sex" with was a steadfast rendezvous?

If the accuser falsely accused Bryant of sexual assault, it is because of an agenda unachieved. Say Bryant and this woman were seeing each other for, say, a period of one year or so. And say the accuser's so-called friends did give valid information about her, saying she has struggled with her mental health in the past. One account says she attempted suicide after a breakup with her boyfriend.

If a woman would consider suicide after a breakup over a boyfriend, what would you think she would do after a "breakup" with Kobe Bryant? Lost hopes of marrying Bryant and achieving stardom brought her to irrational terms. She must have thought, "If I'm going down, I'm taking Kobe with me." How often does a country bumpkin like Ms. Runner-up American Idol contestant sleep with an NBA player, let alone meet one? The supply and demand of NBA players is low and high, respectively. She had to make the most out of the opportunity.

If Bryant inflicted bodily damage to her, it is because she threatened to blackmail him. His pleas to pay her off were out of the question and not enough. False hopes and ultimately being denied left this girl no choice but to resort to curve the path of the shooting star that is Kobe Bryant. This is an Economic Zero Sum game, where no one wins.

The best thing Bryant ever did was marrying his wife, a beautiful dark-skinned Latina who the public drools over. As much as he was being criticized for not having the urban flare of an Allen Iverson or LeBron James, he still presented a love interest that symbolized a sense of authenticity, though it still didn't bring him "street credibility."

Obviously, the worst thing Bryant ever did was venture into the realm of binary opposites. Kobe Bryant's status is bigger than anyone in Eagle County, Colorado. Nevertheless, the fact that he is an African American accused of raping a Caucasian woman is more damaging than a Caucasian being accused of raping a Caucasian or an African American raping an African American.

Is the public even aware that Jason Richardson, shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors, was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence against his girlfriend that took place on April 29? Granted, Bryant is far more highly profiled than Richardson, but it goes to show that the public is not fascinated with black/black-white/white issues. Do we all remember Hugh Grant's little encounter with Divine Brown, West Hollywood hooker?

I want to maintain a level of objectivity but at the same time explore the facts, as limited and uncertain as they are. I propose such an idea, that Kobe Bryant's accuser is falsely accusing him because 50% of all rape accusations are false: "False rape allegations are not the consequence of a gender-linked aberration, as frequently claimed, but reflect impulsive and desperate efforts to cope with personal and social stress situations" (Archives of Sexual Behavior).

From the information that is being given, Bryant's accuser fits this description of having "personal and social stress situations." This is a case of human nature being put up on a pedestal. This case has the potential of a true reversal of the saying, "rags-to-riches" and we are all anxiously waiting like the dogs we are.


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Comment I definetly think Kobe's wife is GORGEOUS in her face, but she has no ass. Her body is not that great. The accuser has a better body, but her face is nothing compared to the lovely Vanessa.

Tue Oct 26, 2004 7:04 pm MST by sexy

Comment Yes, it's true that Kobe marrying his wife could just as well be the WORST thing he has ever done in his life. It might have been the driving force behind his infidelity because he felt tied down by his wife's materialistic ways and of course, the responsibility of being a father. But, as far as image is concerned, it was a move that has been publically adorned. That is all I meant by "best thing he has done" because of the predicament he is now in sort of requires him to fall back on the fact that he is married and "cherishes" his marriage. Zennie, I am sorry about your cousin, that is truly unfortunate.

Thu Sep 11, 2003 9:28 pm MST by Hodaka

Comment I agree with the last post below this one. The "Economics" of this affair must include the dynamic of the young athlete who has the various "hang on" friends, girlfriends, and spouses. I am trying to think of a famous young athlete who is married to an equally successful woman. I can't off the top of my head. When I write "equally" I mean a woman who started her own business and either maintained it, or cashed out of it. The equivalent of someone like Ann Winblad, who started her own software firm when she was 25 and with $500 and then sold it for $15 million. Someone like any of the women entrepreneurs or someone like a fast rising executive. Perhaps there's a unique social-economic dynamic here which seems to discourage a union between a successful male athlete and a successful woman executive. Or for that matter a successful male athlete and a successful female athlete. In thart case, we have Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, or Chris Everett-Lloyd and John Lloyd. But as I think about it, are there any comparable examples amoung black male athletes? The couples I referred to are white, and play tennis. Are they the exception? Looking deeper, is it a function of the "groupie" mentality? That is, the more groupies there are around athletes, the more likely they are to marry someone who thinks in those terms? I use the unfortunate case of my cousin, the late Indianapolis Running Back Fred Lane Jr. His wife was certainly a groupie. He married her, and she eventually murdered him for his insurance money. Terrible. That I will never get over. It seems that there is another study to be written: "The Socio-economics and Psychology of the "Groupie" and the Black Male Athlete.

Thu Sep 11, 2003 1:10 am MST by Zennie

Comment This piece is very interesting indeed, however one fact that I'de like to argue against is the statement that the best thing Kobe ever did was marry his wife. I beleive that Kobe's downfall began when he did in fact marry a 17 year old high school girl, one who like him is extremely limited in both experience and the wisdom that experience brings. Her beauty nor the public's opinion of her beauty changes the fact that, she is someone who has selfishly been the root cause of destroying the relationship between he and his parents. She lacks class and is uneduacted, which is the complete opposite of him and the way his parents raised him. His parents who raised him as you said in a privelaged manner, had to sit back and let him marry a child who'se mother dictates her every move especially to Rodeo Drive. Kobe Bryant is a genuis on the court, he is a prodigy on the court, however he is far from that off the court. We should not assume that Kobe Bryant is an emotionally mature individual. This is exactly what he was trying to prove when he married so young; he wanted to do what the other players have done but what is to say he was ready. He publically adores his wife, if so then why would he be have affairs behind her back. I use the plural form of the word because most of us know this is not Kobe's first time cheating on his wife. Could it not be that after missing his family for so long and being overrun by his wife's greedy mother that some level of resentment towards his wife could have lead him to go astray. Personally as a woman I would never be comfortable knowing my husband to be, will loose the respect and relationship with his own parents; I would do everything in my power to mend those wounds. I myself as an adult would never loose my family in order to gain a husband much less one who has no career of their own. Kobe Bryant is being juiced, he is being juiced by a wife with absolutely no ambition but to spend his money. A mother in law that has taken advantage of the absense of her in laws and has taken numerous monetary gifts from Kobe's hard worked earnings. If Vanessa Laine was a real woman she would not be bought by the $4 mill. dollar ring, nor the new Bently she got. Mostly she would not be bought by the celebrity status her husband is fighting to maintain. While his beautiful wife smiles big for the camera's drenched in diamonds, Kobe Bryant looks like he has not slept in months, he looks scared and humbled. All in all, Kobe Bryant has a lot of soul searching to do as does his accuser; both have reached this predicament due to certain voids in their lives. Most importantly Kobe Bryant needs to get back on the court and do what he does best and as an individual should look deep and find himself mainly for the sake of the most important equation in all of this that many fail to realize - his daughter.

Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:47 am MST by Nassima

Comment Greetings, I think the other problem is that we seem to be in the middle of a society that's becoming all the more fragmented and unusual in its psychology. It seems that neurotic behavior is encouraged, if not celebrated. What is neurotic behavior? It's an unusual nervous tention toward the act of another, or the perceived actions of a person. This shows up in our society whenever one person is trying to "shut out" another person from their group because that person does not "fit" either the other persons expectations or their view of what kind of person they want in their life. Thus, we have women and men with gender issues such that the smallest advance by the other is met with a high degree of nervous and uncessary behavior. We have people who are not used to "people of color" first working to draw their attention, then complaining about it once its received. If this sounds weird, consider the tale of Oakland Raiders Defensive Tackle Darrell Russell, who went to a local SF club called Harry Denton's and met up with a woman he knows (he's black; she's white) and they went to his place in Alameda with another friend. She claimed that they raped her. But the movies that were taken show a woman who was willing and working to have fun with her male friends in bed -- not rape. Russell was acquitted of the charges, and the woman was accussed of filing a false report. But this kind of behavior and the stories, is all too common. So much so that athletes like Bryant become targets and victims. The real solution is in how our media and legal system treats these problems. A really good inqusitor can flesh out these problems, but the system has an anti-intellectual "book-em" first mentality. So stories like that one, or the Kobe issue. are permitted to hide behind a political smokescreen of care for the woman, when the real problem is the way we look at such encounters, especially when it's black male and white female. The only way to protect the athlete from this, is for the system to "work smarter" in interrogation and investigation. It should as much work to determine if both parties are being truthful, even to the point of having both of them in the same room to "talk it out." As controversial as that is, it forces the two parties to deal with each other. In that emotionally-charged, yet controlled, environment, the truth will reveal itself. One trained therapist can determine the real story, and cause each party to reveal it, as they attempt to counter each other. What will happen is that one person will slip, and say something different from what they initially told the police.

Sat Sep 6, 2003 3:23 am MST by Zennie

Comment Many things are unfortunate in our society: It is unfortunate that Kobe did any of this at all--to whatever degree. Whether he dove to the depths stated in the media or merely "had an affair," he unfortunately has betrayed a trust with his wife and the public. It is unfortunate, as you pointed out, that the press will hype this pecadillo much more than those of lesser paid/known individuals. But media is "BIG" business, and they're after the buck as much as anyone. It is unfortunate that because of his wealth and popularity, the "Kobe affair" will be forgotten in a relatively short amount of time. All of these three things and more are unfortunately barometers of the state of our society. Good write up!

Fri Sep 5, 2003 9:10 am MST by Tim

Comment G, The Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky comparison is a good one. Most likely, people will forget about Kobe if he is aquitted of all charges. Just like how no one talks about Sammy Sosa's corked bat incident. The performance on the field/court erases most, if not all, negative connotations regarding their actions. Kobe can still become one of the greatest players in history without the endorsements. It is superficial that endorsements and contracts (i.e. image) determines the outcome of a player's ability to perform. Maybe LeBron is an exception, because I truly think he will live up to the hype. But, if we take a look at Barry Bonds, it's clear that a player doesn't need to be endorsements to be good. I think Kobe can redeem his image by working hard and show a true passion for the game of basketball. At the same time, I don't see him receiving endorsement offers to the extent of Michael Jordan and LeBron James for the remainder of his NBA career.

Thu Sep 4, 2003 12:36 pm MST by Hodaka

Comment I thought that this write up raised some very interesting points. I'm glad that you brought up the whole black/white angle on the situation. I think that is the primary underlying issue that has made this such a monster story. Personally, I believe that this story is receiveing too much attention because this type of thing happens all the time. Usually it just doesn't get reported. I just hope Kobe pulls through because as Too Short so eloquently put it "all she wanted was the fame but you can't get sh*t when you don't have game".

Thu Sep 4, 2003 1:16 am MST by Stefano Montana

Comment And will consequently be good for business.

Wed Sep 3, 2003 10:55 pm MST by Gabrielle D'Ayr

Comment I think you offer some valid hypotheses regarding the possible reasons for allegations of rape. I was very surprised to hear that Kobe was involved something so sordid. As you say, it didn't fit his image. I was also inclined to believe that he didn't do it and was further surprised that the arraignment found sufficient evidence to proceed. I don't know that we will ever know the truth, but I think it likely that Kobe was trying to end an on again/off again affair. Perhaps the birth of his child made him rethink things or realize how fortunate he was. This will definitely change the way fans view Kobe, but in the long run, he will be largely unaffected. I liken his situation to ex-President Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair. Just as the public decided that the affair did not compromise his ability to run the country, so will they decide that this affair does not compromise Kobe's ability to play some mean basketball. A smart marketing person will find a way to either make this work for him or direct it away from him. "Street credibility" aside, Kobe is, legitimately, a great basketball player. When all is said and done, he still will be.

Wed Sep 3, 2003 10:23 pm MST by Gabrielle D'Ayr

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