On Monday, Larry Nance, Jr., the first round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers, tweeted an apology to fans of the team for a 2012 tweet calling Kobe Bryant a rapist.
In reference to Bryant’s sexual assault case from 2003, Nance’s 2012 tweet read: “Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time,” adding “#rapist.”
Within minutes of his selection by the Lakers in the 2015 draft, Nance deleted the 2102 tweet.
Nance’s apology started, “I know I left a terrible first impression, and I apologize for the entire incident. But I plan to earn your respect by wearing the purple and gold honorably and giving you all I have on and off the court.”
The Lakers chose Nance with the 27th pick in the first round after the surprise selection of D’Angelo Russell in the second spot. Russell hopes to become Bryant’s heir apparent. Nance merely hopes to become on speaking terms with Kobe.
At an introductory press conference of the team’s draft picks on Monday, Nance, a second-generation NBA player like his oldest teammate, confessed he was “terrified” about Bryant’s possible reaction to Nance’s 2012 tweet, adding, “You hear all the stories about how Kobe, or Mr. Bryant, is so intense and just always on edge. I was nervous to send him a long message and then just get an ‘Okay,’ or not a response at all. I’m just so, so glad he handled that in the manner he did.”
Nance concluded, “Until he says, ‘I’m Kobe to you,’ he’s going to be ‘Mr. Bryant’ and ‘sir.’” Bryant had already addressed the issue on Saturday at the BET Experience at the Nokia Theater, stating his acceptance of the new recruit:
The kid figured it out himself. The kid’s like, 19. What am I going to do to this kid? He’s a kid, man. He actually sent me a great message yesterday, which is really funny. I looked at it and was like, oh, this is when you know it’s about time to hang these things up, man, when your teammate writes to you, ‘Hi, Mr. Bryant…’ I was like, ‘What the f—?’ But it was really nice and apologetic about what had happened. I said, ‘Dude, listen. We’ve all said things and done things that we regret and wish we could take back. It’s water under the bridge, man. Welcome to the team.’ He writes back, ‘Thank you, sir.'”
Nance admitted, “I’ve still got to regain my good graces with the Lakers fans. I’m working on that before any special treatment comes to me.”