By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Dear Kobe:

Hey, buddy. How ya doing? My name is Jason Whitlock. I'm a 37-year-old sports fan and sports writer. We've never formally met; and, to be quite honest, I've never really liked you. I'm a Shaq guy. The Big Diesel just always seemed more real than you. I didn't like the way you treated Shaq. Yes, he could be a bit lazy, and he should've reported to camp in better shape. But Shaq is a good guy; and had you shown him the proper respect, he would've given you the respect you wanted.

Kobe Bryant
It hasn't been the easiest of times for Kobe Bryant.

Hey, let me get to the reason I'm writing. I'm not writing to bash you. I'm writing because my opinion of you ... hold on, I'm writing because my dislike toward you has softened considerably over the past couple of months. I feel sorry for you. It seems as if the whole world has turned against you. No one in the league likes you. You've pushed your family away. Even mild-mannered Phil Jackson has taken shots at you.

You need a friend, Kobe. You need a mentor. You need an older black male in your life to provide you with some guidance. I'm the spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. BBBS matches Little Brothers with Big Brothers. I figured I could be your Big Brother, a mentor willing to share some hard truths with you.

I know that Dr. Jerry Buss has been giving you some advice. But Dr. Buss is a little ... eccentric. He isn't what you need at this time. You need some counseling from an older male who has street smarts, a head for The Game. You remind me of Stringer Bell. Do you watch "The Wire," Kobe? It's a great show on HBO. Pat Riley loves it. Stringer was the big star on "The Wire." He was a Baltimore drug dealer who was trying to get out of The Game, but greed, ambition and a lack of common sense cost him his life. Stringer did all sorts of dumb crap and crossed all the wrong people. He put himself on an island because he thought he was smarter than The Game.

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Kobe, you don't want to end up like Stringer Bell. He got his cap peeled by a gay stickup man and a bean-pie salesman. Had Stringer sought the advice of an older man, he could've walked away from The Game and become a real-estate tycoon.

Obviously, Kobe, you're in a different Game than Stringer Bell. But the Game you're in has stakes that are just as high, maybe even higher. You're in a Game called marriage, and you're playing it all wrong. Actually, you're just getting played. Vanessa, your young wife, has you strung all the way out. That $4 million adultery ring you bought her a year ago was a gigantic mistake. And allowing her to pick a fight for you with Karl Malone is a colossal error.

Your wife has the upper hand. You know this. You got busted trickin' off. You made matters considerably worse by admitting to your wife that you tricked off. Look, I don't care what you told the police. I don't care what you told your lawyers or the prosecutors in Colorado. You should've never confessed to your wife. When it comes to extracurriculars in a marriage, it is far better to live a lie than suffer the consequences of the truth. Ask Bill Clinton, the author of "Trickin' Ain't Easy."

Vanessa is going to be pushing your buttons for the rest of your married life. She's not letting it go. She can't. Karl Malone did not try to get with your wife. Your wife baited Karl into some harmless flirtation.

"Whatcha huntin' Cowboy?"

What was Karl supposed to say? He thinks he's jabbering with a friend so he cracks a joke. Vanessa blew this thing out of proportion because she's still angry with you. A $4-million ring doesn't take the pain or embarrassment away. The only things that will ease that pain and embarrassment are a divorce and half of your money.

Vanessa & Kobe Bryant
Kobe's the puppet right now -- and Vanessa's pulling the strings.

Kobe, your wife won't stop making a fool out of you until she believes you look as foolish as she did holding your hand at the press conference when you first answered charges that you raped a hotel desk clerk. She's gonna have you chasing mystery enemies for the rest of your life. She'll send herself flowers and tell you they're from Shaq. You'll catch her with a bag of weed and she'll say The Zen Master had it shipped to her from Mexico. Don't be surprised if she starts cooing about the size of Gary Payton's glove or how cute Ray Allen is. She's probably writing letters to Suge Knight in jail.

She isn't going to let you sleep at night, because she isn't sleeping herself. You're out on the road, getting checked in by a different hotel clerk every night. It doesn't matter how many times you talk to her on your cell phone. It doesn't matter how many text messages you send. You got busted, and you compounded the error by confessing. She's bitter and vindictive.

Kobe, you need to learn to keep your mouth shut. You talk too much. Damn, dude, when the police asked you what happened between you and a 19-year-old, you ran off at the mouth and dragged Shaq's reputation through the mud. You're making a fool out of yourself, Kobe.

Tell Jim Gray: no more interviews. Quit talking to reporters. Stay off of ESPN. Kornheiser and Wilbon are great guys, but five good minutes for them are just five more bad minutes for you. And, my God, what were you thinking when you let Stephen A., John Saunders and Greg Anthony grill you on "NBA Shootaround?" I know your buddy at the L.A. Times, T.J. Simers, is one guy you feel is on your side. But he's playing you, too. Every time you open your mouth to T.J. and confirm a juicy story, you're just putting money in T.J.'s pocket and making yourself look like a buster.

Kobe, there's a big difference between a man who runs his house and a man who runs around the house. How do you play basketball when you spend all day and all night running around the house to put out the fires that Vanessa starts?

You owe The Mailman an apology. If your wife didn't leave the mailbox wide open, The Mailman would've never bothered her.

Your friend,


Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at Jason can be reached by e-mail at