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Not enough room for Shaq, Kobe

By Doug Gorman

When Kobe Bryant decided to stay with the Los Angles Lakers last week I really didn't have too much reaction.

I wasn't surprised, but frankly I didn't care. Now that Shaq has left one ocean, for living near another, signing with the Miami Heat, Kobe will not have to share the spotlight with anybody.

Let's face it, there wasn't enough room for both Kobe and Shaq on the same team in the first place. They are two of the most talented players in the NBA, but they both have huge egos, which would have caused problems in the long run had they decided to stay together.

Still, I'm amazed that Bryant is able to even think about his immediate basketball future. After all, Bryant faces an upcoming trail for sexual assault. Bryant is looking at a possible lengthy jail term if convicted in a Colorado courtroom later this summer. If Bryant goes to jail for any amount of time, and the maximum sentence could be life, (that will never happen), I don't think there's a prison work release program in the country that will allow him to continue playing basketball in the NBA.

Once the season ended, I would have thought more of Bryant he had put his basketball future on hold until his legal issues were settled.

Bryant might well be innocent. I have thought all a long his sexual relationship with the young woman was probably consensual, still he needs to vigorously defend himself on the charges.

One thing is for certain, Bryant seems more of a hero than ever before and that's sad.

Because even if he's not guilty of rape, he's a married man being unfaithful to his wife, and that is not the type of person we need as a hero to our children.

Has society stooped to such a new low that high-paid athletes regarded females as nothing more then call girls.

When Magic Johnson announced he was retiring because he had contracted HIV more than a decade ago, that should have served as a wake-up call that one night stands can have serious consequences, but I wonder if athletes' got the message?

I understand female groupies and gold diggers latch on to athletes, hoping for a piece of that players' financial pie, but that doesn't justify athletes who get out of control or breaks the law.

It's hard to open a sports page today, or listen to a talk radio show, and not hear a story about a player who has spent the night in jail for assaulting his wife, girl friend(s) or mistress.

Time and time again athletes are taken to court because they are being sued for back child support. It's bad enough to bring a child in to this world the result of a one-night stand, but it is criminal to ignore that child and refuse to support him.

Perhaps the real fault lies with sports fans for allowing athletes to think they are above the law or above the norms of every day society.

From an early age, athletes have been taught they are special. They are led to believe that some rules don't apply to them.

Women worship the ground they walk on, fans bow down to them like they are some sort of god, and they take the bait.

College athletes lure recruits to campuses with pretty hosts. (Hopefully, the athlete doesn't expect sexual favors in return), and the seed is planted.

Now, of course not every athlete is out of control. Many athletes have stable marriages, and are solid citizen, serving as good role models for out children.

But as the old saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch. That might sound cynical, but in this day and age it's hard to tell in pro sports who is a good guy and who isn't.

(Doug Gorman is sports editor for the Daily. E-mail: dgorman@news-daily.com)