While Most Mourn Kobe Bryant, Haters Sound Off
by Christian Duque

Tributes are pouring in from all over the world, as news broke early Sunday morning, that famed NBA basketball
legend Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash. Fellow teammates, Hollywood celebrities, and most
importantly, the fans, all over the world have expressed a great deal of sorrow and shown his family an incredible
level of respect. Surprisingly, and for the most part, the mainstream media has also been very tactful in reporting
the news and the legacy Bryant will leave behind.

The NBA has also set aside its rules for formal induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, accelerating the process for
Kobe. What's right is right and the sport's administration want to ensure they do right by one of the best players
to hit the court. Also, LeBron James published a heartfelt post on Instagram, where he promised to keep Kobe's
legacy going with the LA Lakers organization. Kobe won five national titles with the organization, before retiring in
2016.

Bryant's career was one of epic proportions, he became the youngest player in the League to score 30,000
points, he became the L.A. Lakers all-time leading scorer, and represented the United States at the Olympic
Games in Beijing (2008) and London (2012). He won the support of fans worldwide, was well known for his
philanthropic activities, and even had a short-lived music career. The truth is, Kobe lived the life of ten men.

With that being said, Kobe's life, like most celebrities, was not one without controversy. In 2003, he was accused
of sexual assault by a 19 year old hotel employee. The alleged victim in the case refused to testify in court,
resulting in the charges being dropped; however, the parties did reach a settlement in the follow-up [civil] lawsuit.

As with any high profile case, there are those who believe the alleged victim, those who believe the defendant,
and those who believe in the process. Folks who never liked Kobe to begin with, would be inclined to throw the
book at him even before opening arguments. The truth is, Bryant wanted his day in court and assembled a legal
team to vigorously defend his innocence. With that being said, the fact the alleged victim didn't testify, doesn't
mean she lied or he was innocent, it simply meant the criminal aspect of the case was over.

The fact the parties reached a settlement on the civil side, also does not mean the victim was telling the truth
or that the defendant was innocent, it simply means the parties agreed on a settlement to end the proceedings. I
really hate to state the obvious, but for many, they see what they want to see, even in situations that don't
warrant the conclusions they reach.

There are many reasons to settle a lawsuit. Companies settle all the time. Does this mean they're always wrong?
Of course not, some may settle as a cost of doing business. I hate to oversimplify things, especially when dealing
with cases such as the one in the previous paragraph, but it still holds water. Lawsuits, for any claim, are simply
bad PR. Kobe Bryant, like Michael Jordan or Lebron James, aren't simply people, they're also living, breathing,
brands. Their names represent various business ventures, endorsement deals, and potential books of business.
If a celebrity finds him/herself involved in scandal, the calls start coming in, with emails, snail mail, and faxes to
boot. Investors and stockholders start to get nervous and when financial backers get nervous, they tend to run.
Settling, in many situations, makes the most business sense.

Sadly, those who believe what they want to believe, always will. When Michael Jackson settled in the 1990's, his
haters were convinced he was guilty. When Jackson was prosecuted in open court in the 2000's and acquitted,
his haters were still convinced he was guilty, even though the same prosecutor from the 1990's went out of his
way to convict him in the 2000's - and couldn't.

With regard to Kobe, his haters believe what they want to believe, and those same shameless people are out
now, on the prowl, leaving hateful comments, looking to pick fights, and hoping to capitalize on the sorrow of
hundreds of millions around the world, from behind their computers and smart phones, all over social media.
These people are a combination of trolls and bullies, because only someone with little moral compass would be
making it their goal to engage in this kind of nastiness, not even a day after the fatal helicopter crash that killed
Kobe, his daughter, and a group of friends and a pilot just doing his job.

Reporting these losers to IG, FB, Twitter and/or Youtube won't stop them. The reporting process takes time and
social media is reluctant to silence speech, even when it's as insensitive as the attacks on Kobe may be.
Blocking these people is an option, but sometimes the people engaging in this behavior may in fact be your
colleagues - or worse - your actual friends. Unfollowing them on Facebook is a good option, but again, if they're
colleagues or friends, you may still want to follow them for all other things. Reporting, blocking, and unfollowing
are also likely to alert them.

Any attention gives these people exactly what they want. Arguing with them, especially in public, is exactly what
they're after. They want you to acknowledge them, they want to rile you up, and although they have extreme
contempt for Kobe, they'll also enjoy (on some level) making you look stupid. And you will look stupid. Even if
your heart is in the right place and you want to fall on your sword to protect Kobe's legacy, to those who are
disinterested in the topic, it'll simply look like you arguing and having a Facebook fight. It's not a good look.

The best approach to dealing with those looking to troll and hate on Kobe's memory - is to NOT ENGAGE. Act
totally, INDIFFERENT. If you're good about this approach, you'll find that these folks will then try to start
commenting on your posts, at which point, you have every right to delete their comments and explain to them,
privately, that those comments aren't welcome (again, never publicly). Also, while this article may seem to only
address a concern for the next few days, Kobe's haters will dig themselves in, attacking his legacy for years to
come. Like I said,  you're not dealing with people who care about justice, the alleged victim seventeen years ago,
or basing their dislike on anything rational - they simply believe what they want to believe and you can't change
them.

For the rest of us, we will continue to mourn a great legend.