So far, Kobe is still the peoples' choice

Monday, August 11, 2003

Last week Kobe Bryant once again stood before thousands and proclaimed his innocence through cheers from his fans. His fans showed their support with signs and shouts of "We love you."

Millions, like the fans at the 2003 Teen Choice awards show, have taken Bryant's side without hearing any of the evidence against him.

But the media has swarmed to this like no other high-profile celebrity case in recent history. That attention to the Bryants has left Americans with little perspective on it.

So Kobe's fans look at what he's done on the basketball court, and housewives use what was his sparkling reputation to judge the case.

Bryant also has put perspective in the minds of the people himself. He's played the public relations game much like he plays basketball -- peerlessly. He has chosen the right times to speak and chosen the right times to remain silent and let his actions speak for him.

He's had to act. He's had to humiliate himself. He's even had to dip into his bankroll. Nevertheless, his point has been made.

Meanwhile, his accuser has sat idle and done neither. She has remained tucked safely away through everything, refused to speak and refused to be seen.

The strategy is meant to keep her away from the vicious criticisms (and I use the term lightly) that come from Kobe's extreme supporters.

Instead, it's only piqued the curiosity of those extremists. It's like when you're explaining which Air Force Base your sister is being transferred to, and the first words out of your buddy's mouth are, "What does she look like?" If that's ever happened to you.

The American public is growing impatient, and rumors already have begun to fly. Things will get uglier from here for both sides.

But Kobe has done something to help his cause in the eyes of the public. Of course it's not the public Kobe will have to convince, but the jury -- a jury that hasn't been selected yet.

Here's what has been selected -- your schedule for The Week Ahead:

Today

The Cardinals begin a seven game road trip in Pittsburgh. The next home game is a week from tomorrow against the Cubbies.

Wednesday

Auto Tire and Parts Racepark will pay tribute to NASCAR driver Kenny Schrader with a special race. NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace will join Schrader at the track to race a field of local and out-of-state drivers. Jo Ann Emerson also will take part. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate.

The gates open at 6 p.m., but you want to be there two hours early to stand in line for this one. It's Elvis Fan Appreciation Day, and only the first 2,500 fans will receive an Elvis baseball. It's no coincidence the Memphis Redbirds are hosting the Las Vegas 51s. 7:05 p.m.

Friday

There's no MLB this weekend, so you'll have to settle for the independent leagues. The River City Rascals will have a Sonic Drive-In cap giveaway for the first 1,000 fans, and there will be a pajama party at the game. I'm not sure how you have a PJ party, but they're going to have one for this game that starts at 7:05 p.m.

Down the road

The Rams host their first preseason game against the defending world champs at 7 p.m. on Monday.

David Wilson is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian and a student at Central High School. His column "The Week Ahead" appears every Monday.

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