Kobe Bryant's comments about the Trayvon Martin shooting have stirred a storm of controversy, with a talk show host and television personality now telling Arsenio Hall that justice is too important to be bent by race.
"Even though the system sometimes is unfair, it doesn't accord us the license to be unfair as well," Stephen A. Smith told Hall during a recent appearance. "We have to make sure we're just as fair-minded as we're asking other people to be. If we're not willing to do that we don't have a strong argument."
Smith appeared on Hall's show the same day he visited with Bryant recently. It was a comment from Bryant that launched the discussion about the Martin case. Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who under pressure from federal authorities eventually was charged in the case.
However, a jury decided that he had been under attack, and it was for that reason he shot at Martin.
The Los Angeles Lakers' Bryant was quoted as telling New Yorker writer Ben McGrath that he would have reacted differently than members of the Miami Heat did in 2012, as they took pictures wearing hoodies in honor of Trayvon Martin.
Bryant was quoted in the New Yorker as saying, "I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African-American. That argument doesn't make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society? Well… then don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won't assert myself."
Immediately, Bryant's comments were picked up by Newsone.com, a website that caters to black Americans, and attacked. He also came under intense social media scrutiny.
"Kobe Bryant has the attitude that justice should be equal no matter what, with regards to race or gender," Smith said. "That was his position. All he was trying to say was listen to the facts. … before we jump … and judge accordingly.
"You can't sit there and take somebody's side just because they're an African-American," Smith said. "I don't have a problem with that. I think he was right on point.
"We've come a lot way as a society," Smith said. "We have an obligation to recognize that instead of always getting emotional and assuming that someone's against us because of race."
Smith, a commentator for ESPN, gained fame for predicting the LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh would sign with the Miami NBA team in 2010.
Jack Cashill, author of "If I Had a Son: Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman,", told WND it was good to see Bryant make such comments to the New Yorker.
"When the nation's race hustlers challenge Bryant's 'authenticity,' he fights back. When they challenge Obama's, he surrenders to their agenda," he said.
Another former NBA player, the outspoken Charles Barkley, also made comments in the wake of Zimmerman's July 2013 acquittal that didn't reflect the unified thinking of the black community: "I think Trayvon Martin – God rest his soul – I think he did flip the switch and started beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman. I agree with the verdict."
Cashill told WND, "If basketball players like Bryant and Barkley refuse to give race precedence over justice, why can't the president of the United States and the attorney general do the same?"
"If I Had A Son" tells how for the first time in the history of American jurisprudence, a state government, the U.S. Department of Justice, the White House, the major media, the entertainment industry and the vestiges of the civil rights movement conspired to put an innocent man in prison for the rest of his life.
All that stood between Zimmerman and lifetime internment were two folksy local lawyers, their aides, and some very dedicated citizen journalists, most notably an unpaid handful of truth seekers at the blogging collective known as the Conservative Treehouse. "If I Had A Son" takes an inside look at this unprecedented battle formation.
The book tells the story, too, of the six stalwart female jurors who ignored the enormous pressure mounting around them and preserved America's belief in its judicial system.
Ultimately, the courts found that Zimmerman fired on Martin because he was being attacked.
In the wake of the verdict, skeptics in the Martin camp claimed that the state of Florida did not play to win. In the course of his research, Cashill came across some startling evidence, which suggests that those skeptics may indeed be right.
"If I Had A Son" is the one and only comprehensive look at the most politically significant trial in decades.