Kobe shows Tiger path to redemption - winning
That didn’t stop a reporter from trying on the eve of the first anniversary of the Tiger Woods scandal to find out how Bryant thought he was able to overcome his own scandal and regain his stature as a superstar in demand by fans around the NBA.
“I’m not answering that question,” Bryant said earlier this month in Denver.
Nothing new there. Bryant has never talked publicly about what happened between himself and a teenage hotel worker that night, though he did have his attorney read a statement in which he apologized to the woman for his behavior.
While Woods continues to struggle to define his scandal, Bryant for the most part seems to have successfully put his behind him even if the allegations against him were more serious. The sexual assault charges were dropped, he paid to settle a civil suit brought by the alleged victim and both sides have kept quiet ever since.
As a strategy, it seems to be working. His image has recovered enough that he earns millions of dollars a year in endorsement deals and his jersey is a top seller not only at home but in Europe and China.
That may be largely because Bryant found a way to do something Woods has yet to do – keep on winning.
“Kobe went back onto the court and returned to his all-star status. He brought back the legions of basketball fans first,” said Michael Kempner, president of MWW Group public relations in East Rutherford, N.J. “Tiger hasn’t, and in many ways people are reveling in his mediocrity.”
Adding two more titles to his haul since the charges in Colorado has paid off nicely for Bryant. He signed a contract extension in April worth nearly $90 million over three years to become the highest paid player in the NBA, and Forbes magazine estimated that his total annual earnings come close to $50 million when endorsements are figured in.
“Yes, Kobe Bryant had an incident,” said Ronn Torossian, president of 5W Public Relations in New York. “But the incident didn’t define Kobe Bryant. He has recovered, just like many others have recovered.”
Indeed, the mention of his name is no longer followed by talk about the charges. If anything, discussion now revolves around whether he may one day be regarded as the greatest player in the game.
“It’s unbelievable if you think back to that time because the allegations were far more serious than the ones facing Tiger,” said Ralph Cindrich, a sports attorney and agent in Pittsburgh. “Kobe is an example of what can happen if someone comes back, conducts himself properly and says the right things.”
It’s a template some think Woods might want to follow as he tries to put a sex scandal of his own behind him a year after his private escapades were revealed. There is one difference: Bad as they were, the accusations against Bryant came from one woman. Woods is now a divorced man because of numerous reports of serial cheating.
In Bryant’s case, his attorney read the following statement on his client’s behalf:
“I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.”
Bryant immediately returned to basketball – and winning.
Woods relayed his regrets in a globally televised message: “I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in. …”
As for winning, it hasn’t happened.
“It all starts with winning and the popularity goes from there,” Cindrich said. “It’s the same way with a Michael Vick or a Ben Roethlisberger. People tend to forgive and forget when they win.”
Once one of the NFL’s biggest and highest paid stars, Vick was broke, reviled and his career was in ruins after he served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring.
Now he’s on top again, quarterbacking for the Philadelphia Eagles, and could become perhaps the biggest free agent on the market next year.
Roethlisberger returned to the Steelers on Oct. 17 following a four-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He was accused of, but not charged with, sexually assaulting a Georgia college student in March. Since his return, the Steelers are 4-2 (7-3 overall), including losses to two of the best teams in the league – New England and New Orleans.
Woods and Bryant went to dinner in Orlando last year before the golfer’s scandal broke, with Bryant reportedly trying to find out how Woods handled life in a fishbowl.
Someday they may have even more in common if Woods can regain his dominance on the golf course.
“I think America loves to build stars, knock stars down a little bit and then build them back up,” said David Schwab, a vice president at Octagon who specializes in offering celebrity strategy for brands. “You certainly saw that with Kobe.”
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.