On Wednesday night Jim Brown sat down on The Arsenio Hall Show and essentially checked the blackness of Kobe Bryant at the door. In Brown's opinion, because Bryant spent much of his childhood overseas, Kobe didn't quite fit what was happening to African-Americans in the United States. Brown is known to walk a tightrope with his controversial statements and rarely does he hold back.
In 1967, Brown also established the Black Economic Union to promote prosperity in the black community and support Muhammad Ali's Vietnam War protest. The summit invited Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but on Arsenio's couch, Brown also went out of his way to claim that he would not invite Bryant if he did it again.
At Friday's Lakers practice, Bryant gracefully responded to Brown's comments.
Via ESPN LA:
"It surprised me in a sense that it came out of left field," Bryant said. "I mean, I've never even met him, so it came out of left field but I do think it's a great opportunity to have these conversations, to have this discussion.
"I think no matter where you come from, whether you come from Italy, whether you come from Inglewood [Calif.], whether you come from London, it doesn't matter. Ultimately, the conversation is that it doesn't matter what color skin you are to begin with. But, I think it's a good place to start to have a good conversation and try to educate one another and try to improve as a society from it."
Bryant's initial response was with a tweet on Thursday morning.
If it's a major issue that involves a quality or a perception of racial quality, I feel like that's something that's a big enough message that needs to be addressed," Bryant said when asked about the tweet. "Obviously it's a sensitive topic for everybody, but I think the best thing to do is not dance around it but to go at it with a full head of steam and generate conversation about it. So, that's how I try to measure it."
Was Brown out of line or keeping it too real? Either way, Bryant won't be scheduling any peace talks with Brown.
"No," Bryant said. "There's nothing to talk about. We have different perceptions and different views on it, clearly. So, the thing that I'm trying to do always, what I've been trying to do, is try to educate our youth going forward, no matter what color skin you are -- be it African-American or white or whatever the case may be -- just try to talk about having a bright future and how to help kids going forward and progress as a society as a whole.
"But he and I, there's no reason for us to have a conversation. We're completely on opposite sides of the spectrum. I'm an old dog, but he's a much older dog so he's probably a lot more set in his ways than I am."