Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, as well as seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26, and many thought it was extremely low class of King to bring up the sexual assault case.
Gayle spoke with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie on “CBS This Morning” in an interview that aired this week and said Bryant’s legacy is “complicated.”
Then at the 3:44 mark of the clip, she asked Leslie if Bryant’s legacy is complicated for her as a woman and former WNBA player.
“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie answered.
The former Los Angeles Sparks star then said Bryant wasn’t the kind of guy who would prey on women when they hung out at nightclub, for example.
Leslie and the late Los Angeles Lakers star were longtime friends, and she said he was different from the other men she knows in the NBA.
“I just have never seen him be the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know,” Leslie explained.
“But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it, though,” King shot back. “As his friend you wouldn’t see it.”
The “CBS This Morning” host then asked if it was fair to bring up Bryant’s sexual assault case since it was dismissed and he’s now gone.
“I think the media should be more respectful at this time,” Leslie answered. “If you had questions about it, you’ve had many years to ask him that. I don’t think that it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.”
Leslie then brought up the dismissal of the case, and King interrupted her and reminded her that the woman refused to testify.
King also referred to the woman as a “victim” instead of an “accuser,” which some might say reveals her true feelings about the case.
The backlash King received for the interview is similar to the negative criticism her best friend Oprah Winfrey received for interviewing Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Both men accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were children.
Their claims were made into the HBO docuseries “Leaving Neverland,” and Winfrey spoke to them around the time it aired.
Many said that Winfrey is focusing on Black men being accused of sexual crimes and not people like Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexually assaulting a number of women and is currently on trial on charges related to some of those accusations.
Winfrey was also criticized for attaching her name to a documentary about the sexual assault accusations surrounding Russell Simmons.
She later backed out of working with that project, but the backlash hasn’t stopped.
As for King, the former NBA player Matt Barnes, who played with Bryant on the Lakers, wrote a message that seemed to be about the interview.
“It use to be ‘them’ lately it’s been ‘us’ smfh,” wrote Barnes on social media.
Many others also slammed King.
“Smh so disappointed with gayle smh it really be your own damn ppl sometime 🙄,” wrote someone on Instagram.
“Really Gayle! You are reaching and you don’t even have to! This isn’t your R.Kelly interview,” wrote someone else.
“Lisa Leslie did a great job of setting her straight and shutting her down,” a third person commented.
Plus, a fourth wrote that, “Oprah and Gayle need to retire to their vegetable gardens. It’s been fun.”