Another Strain on the Kobe Bryant/Laker Marriage

And this time, there's videotape.

Howard Beck reports in The New York Times:

The footage appears to be legitimate, based on a shorter video posted on YouTube.com. The video's owners played the entire 24-second clip for hoopsworld.com, which posted an article about it yesterday. The author, Eric Pincus, is a Los Angeles-based writer who has spent considerable time around the Lakers and Bryant. The video, Pincus writes, "leaves no doubt that it is in fact Bryant."

The video's owners played the clip over the telephone for a Times reporter. The voice is clearly Bryant's, speaking in a high, agitated tone.

"It's not the camera Kobe," said a spokesman for the amateur videographers, who, like his friends, wanted to remain anonymous. He said the footage was shot in a shopping center parking lot in Newport Coast, Calif., where Bryant lives. The spokesman said his friends, all in their early 20s, were chatting with Bryant when one of them decided to take a photograph and some video for posterity, but that they did not believe that Bryant was aware that they were filming. The Lakers passed on a chance to obtain the Nets' Jason Kidd in February because they would not part with Bynum.

"Are you kidding me?" Bryant says in the video. He goes on to say, with a number of profanities mixed in, that the Lakers should "ship out" Bynum.

"We're talking about Jason Kidd," Bryant says. He also speaks in a derisive tone about General Manager Mitch Kupchak before the video abruptly ends.

Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld has also seen the whole thing.

The people who shot the video have a website where you can see a few teaser seconds of footage (which are also on YouTube).

I'm inclined not to link though. He has already requested a trade -- we already kind of knew he was fed up, right? This is how fed up people talk. I don't need to see how that exact sausage was made.

More importantly, the selling of this video strikes me as some kind of relationship apocalypse. This is why many celebrities are paranoid, reclusive weirdos who think people are out to get them.

Kobe Bryant apparently thinks he's talking privately -- venting perhaps, as we all do sometimes -- and one of the people he has decided to trust sneakily records it and then shops it around and around and around to the highest bidder? Don't we just have to take a moment to point out that is a terrible thing to do?

Yes, Bryant should have been more careful. Yes, ideally he'd not undermine his teammates in public no matter what. But surely the most egregious behavior here is on the part of those guys selling the video. I'm not going to give them my money.

UPDATE: Says here that Bryant's lawyers could make a strong case to have this video taken down, if they were so inclined. Assuming that's true, I guess the Bryant camp hasn't taken action yet, or doesn't think this video is all that damaging.

UPDATE: Michael McCann of the Sports Law Blog takes his own stab, and if my interpretation is correct, he is less certain that Bryant has an easy legal remedy. McCann adds in an email: "I think he would have a viable claim, but one difficult to establish given how the law generally treats the right of publicity for celebrities. If he brings a lawsuit, I suspect it will be more to scare the young guys who made the video than anything else."