Wow. Imagine that. A fashion statement. African-American teenagers are no different from any other teenagers. They don't care that Bryant is multilingual, has a $13 million mansion and owns three NBA rings.
They just want to be cool. Air Force Ones and Converses are in. Bryant's shoes are out.
Here's another news flash for them: Believe it or not, most people in black communities don't want crime, and the crimes most frowned upon are rape, sexual assault or any assault on a woman or child.
"No one is going to look up to that. Every honorable man is going to respect the sisters, mothers and the women. Every man is going to respect that aspect of family history," Brown said.
Said Pierce: "What is there to respect about a man possibly being charged with a sexual offense? It doesn't make any sense. That's not going to happen. No one is going to accept that."
It was interesting to note that in a Harris Interactive poll of teenagers this spring, Bryant was third on the list of role models behind parents and teachers. That's pretty good company. And the poll wasn't divided into affluent teenagers as opposed to poor ones, or black ones compared to white ones.
Bryant is no different from any other star player. There are going to be people who love him, hate him or just don't care.
"We're going to have people in our communities who don't like him because he went straight to the pros, or because he had it better than them," Brown said. "They are going to be jealous of Kobe no matter what.'
But the "street cred" theory has no credibility.
"That's definitely a stereotype," said Ravens rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. "There are a lot of black people who have never been arrested, never had a record. They aren't going to relate to him for that. Maybe these people who make these kind of statements will either apologize or retract them. They make absolutely no sense."