Hammer time
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

If you are looking for justice, you can find it in the Kobe Case.

You just can't find it depending on trial by jury. Trial by jury is perhaps the No. 1 example of defeating justice that we know of. How else can you explain a scenario where O.J. Simpson walks on his beef, and Kobe Bryant might do time on his?

Real justice comes from somewhere beyond trial by jury; justice comes from a higher authority -- God, if you will, who some lost wag said claimed it for Himself back when.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant
In happier times at last year's ESPY Awards.

"Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord."

And thus, God put His Hammer in the hand of three women, so that they might smite Kobe Bryant royally about the head and the neck, and for a good long while, too, so that he will know, big-time, what is actually what, and be heartfully and fiscally sorrowful.

Now, before we get to these three women who have the Hammer of God ...

Let me just say this, just to let you in on how it goes in the phone room on the night cophouse beat, when you have to go by your nose, because there are no eyewitnesses to an alleged crime ... and even if there are, the cops aren't really telling you anything. You have to go by your nose a lot on the night cophouse beat. Dayside, too, for that matter.

Now, when I first heard about the double murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, knowing what I know about Juice, I said to myself, "Yep, that fits; 90 percent of the time, that'd be somebody you know. Somebody cared to take that much time, cut that deep. And knowing what Juice was capable of, how he was situated, yep ..." I wasn't going to go around saying it, because, first of all, since I'm what you call black, who'd listen? Seems media is mostly interested in its own frenetic onanism, what my man Ray-Ray Ratto calls "... the ritualistic danse macabre that induces the legal system & the media to embarrass themselves in tandem."

The Juice embarrassment I could've stirred up a lot better if my instincts had told me the opposite -- that Juice didn't do it. Then I could have gotten plenty of play, being black and all. I've come to think of it as like having the black pieces in chess -- you move second, you're on the defensive from the get-go, but at least you get to move. There was also this little matter of trial by jury, and being prejudicial to a potential jury with your public comments. And there was the 10 percent chance I could be wrong.

Now, when I heard about the alleged sexual assault in Eagle County, I also said something to myself. Knowing Kobe somewhat, seeing how he was situated, I thought to myself ...

WARNING!: If you are a resident of Eagle County or part of any potential jury pool in Colorado -- and that goes double for you, illustrious Page 2 colleague and devil-may-care raconteur, Mr. Hunter S. Thompson -- STOP HERE. Do NOT read the next two paragraphs.

Nope. That doesn't track. Especially not now, since I have a copy of the timeline; whatever happened, happened between 11:14 p.m. on June 29 and 12:35 a .m. on June 30. A 19-year-old hotel employee goes off duty at 11 p.m. A phone call is made from Kobe's room at 11:13 p.m., apparently to the Newport Beach house where his wife Vanessa and their daughter are staying. To me, this is classic screw-around mode, not I'm-about-to-commit-a-felony mode. By calling he pre-empts the surprise call from home that will interrupt the planned festivities. Then, whatever happened happened. And by 12:36 a.m., a pay-per-view movie is ordered in Kobe's room.

Accompanied by her parents, alleged victim reports alleged assault at 12 noon June 30 to Eagle County Sheriff, is then taken to Vail Valley Medical Center to undergo tests. What's Kobe's motive? When's he had time to covet something enough to take it? And why that lag time between act and report? What happens if she mentions it, and to whom? The Kobe I know wouldn't bust a grape. When he tries to act hard, like making a rap album, or in that Sprite commercial, where he's shown working out in a boxing ring, punching into mitts held by what is ostensibly a trainer, I shake my head. It's inauthentic. My gut instinct says no. There is the 20 percent chance I could be wrong. Kobe's guilty of being stupid, not guilty of a crime, that's my gut, although I remind Kobe and all the young brothers: If you are playing with the black pieces, stupidity can become a felony, a crime punishable by jail, and even death.

* * * * *

So who's got the Hammer of God now? Three women.

Vanessa, Kobe Bryant
Who holds the Hammer now? The look in Vanessa Bryant's eyes tells the story.

Is that justice, or what?

Vanessa Bryant has Hammer No. 1. Think about it. A month ago, she was still trying to overcome being seen as a golddigger, at least by her in-laws, who had been driven away from their only son, with Vanessa as the wedge that came between them. For all I know, Kobe's parents wouldn't have minded the marriage so much in the first place, but Kobe was so in love that he reportedly eschewed a pre-nup.

"Eschewed." A word to be avoided.

Frankly, I didn't even know what Vanessa looked like until the ESPYs. Usually, she's kept an exceedingly low profile, and in a world of Joumanas, Halles, Beyonces, everybody pretty wanting and feeling like they deserve to be the star, I kind of appreciated that about 'Nessa, if for no other reason than just as a change of pace. I can say Kobe talked her up quite royally on the occasions when I spoke to him, like for that GQ article I did on him back in the fall of 2001, for the late Penn State alum, Art Cooper.

Vanessa was definitely working from Lane 1 of a staggered start. She definitely carried an exceedingly heavy bug. Now look at her. Head up, back straight, looking everybody, particularly Kobe, dead in the eye. Not only has she become Wife as Totem rather than Perceived Trophy, she's the one Kobe must supplicate himself before, not just as legal reality, but because I think he really means it. That too fits -- he has a soft caramel center and that fits him, and he could do a whole lot worse. It's a nice consolation for him, a good break, that his wife is beautiful. This does not change the fact that California is a community property state. We're talking Half. Half. Nobody could blame Vanessa if she stayed by Kobe's side through the trial, then was open to suggestions. If she walks, it will be understandable; if she stays, she'll be canonized, by Kobe if nobody else. She is a woman wronged, to the tune of I don't know how many millions. And child support, too.

It's Vanessa's world now, God has seen to it, and has given her His Hammer, and that must be some kind of justice. She must've been sincere in her decisions all along. Now her in-laws not only have to back up off her, they have to respect her more than they ever did. This may not lead to a demeanor change on her part, but it could. Just as a joke, to lighten the mood, at one of Kobe's household requests, she could whirl around and say, "What? What did you just say? I know you didn't say that to me. Did you?"

Kobe is riding in the whipped cur car, no doubt.

I don't know. He may come to like it.

Now she gets to hold her head up, knowing it might have taken this trouble to make it finally happen, but she is definitely Mrs. Vanessa L. Bryant now, and has had a serious explosion in her net worth, and holds the Hammer in all future household negotiations.

You go, girl.

* * * * *

Hammer No. 2 belongs to Pamela Mackey, Kobe's Colorado lawyer. This is real justice on your ass, you see. At the press conference at the Staples Center, Mackey was already putting on the full-court press, and she didn't look like she was lacking for things to say. She said she doubted there was enough there to even file charges, implying that there was some ulterior motive, no doubt relying on that missing chunk in the timeline between the act itself, and the reporting of the act to authorities. Plenty of time, from defense counsel's perspective, for an attention-starved young woman to mention to her dad that his little girl was no longer so little and guess what else?

Kobe Bryant, wife Vanessa, lawyer Pamela Mackey
Attorney Pamela Mackey will be a household name by the time this case wraps up.

You think what I'm saying is bad? Wait till you hear Pamela Mackey's dulcet tones. This woman is quite persuasive. She is going to make Johnnie Cochran seem like Stuttering John. I wouldn't want to be in her way if I were the Sheriff or the D.A., Woody Harrelson Hurlbert.

My lawyer friend Superfine in L.A. said to me, "I have a very close girlfriend who is a gorgeous black woman kick-ass lawyer in Denver who is killing herself that she did not get the case. She has won tons of sexual assault cases, many in Eagle County; it would have been totally hot if she and I could've handled the case together." But even she said that Mackey was an outstanding lawyer. Hal Haddon, HST's old mouthpiece, may be lead counsel, but it will be Mackey's rep that gets blown up. She's the one on the legal team with the Hammer; she evens all cards.

Superfine went on to say it was too soon to say how winnable the case is for either side, however: "If he were my client, I wouldn't have allowed Kobe to make the statement admitting adultery. Why make any admissions at all at this juncture? What if the prosecution's case were to self-destruct (victim dies, turns out to be a flake, a liar, a serial accuser, groupie, Kobe lover/stalker, Vanessa hater/stalker -- who knows?), then Kobe would have admitted something that he never had to admit."

I allowed maybe Kobe insisted on supplicating himself before Vanessa because he felt it, and because of Hammer No. 1. Also, there was the matter of DNA present after sex, which needed to be explained, and that's when Superfine said she had to go, because I was getting out of my area. She's wonderful.

* * * * *

Hammer No. 3 belongs to the alleged vic, herself. If she doesn't keep on hitting herself on the toes with it by yapping away at parties, she can knock down a lot, and already has.

There is the matter of compensation, from any pending civil action (or settlement) in the wake of the criminal case. There is also notoriety. Hey, the cynical and even the pragmatic say that it doesn't matter how, as long as they get the name right.

She wanted to be on "American Idol"?

Well, she got it.

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."



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