Gayle King's Kobe Bryant Interview With Lisa Leslie Blasted by Kenny Smith

CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King created controversy recently after bringing up Kobe Bryant's past rape allegations during an interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie. She has received considerable criticism, as well as defense from some prominent personalities. Former NBA player Kenny Smith recently weighed in on the noise while speaking with TMZ at LAX. He didn't personally know Bryant all that well, but felt that the timing of this interview was not ideal.

"It's unfortunate that during this time of grieving, I think the timing of the interview totally was off," Smith said to TMZ. "With everyone still grieving ... to have an interview that was led in that direction, I think the timing was insensitive."

The questions to Leslie revolved around a 2003 case in which a 19-year-old woman accused Bryant of sexual assault. The case was dismissed a week before it was set to go to trial because the alleged victim would not testify. The woman later filed a civil suit, which was settled out of court after Bryant issued an apology to the alleged victim.

King asked about these allegations during her interview with Leslie. She wanted to know if they affected Bryant's legacy. Leslie simply responded by saying that she never knew Bryant to be cruel or aggressive towards women. She also said that the media should be more respectful of Bryant's legacy.

Following this interview, King has reportedly received death threats from users on social media that are angry about the line of questioning. Oprah Winfrey detailed some of these issues during an appearance on Today with Hoda and Jenna.

"She's not doing well," Winfrey said. "May I say, she is not doing well because she has now death threats and has to now travel with security and she's feeling very much attacked."

Winfrey also revealed that she has been speaking with King every day and that she is offering her support. The longtime host believes that everyone has a right to their opinion, but she does not agree with the "vitriol, hate, and meanness" being expressed every day on social media.


Smith understands that there is frustration surrounding the interview, but he did tell TMZ that death threats are a "lot extreme." He just feels that it's unfortunate that the timing of this interview took place while Bryant fans were grieving his death in a helicopter crash.

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