For once, an athlete with a gun has caused a controversy that should fall squarely on the shoulders of his critics.
I've been searching high and low for a single, legitimate argument as to why it is offensive that Kobe Bryant was in the new Call of Duty: Black Ops commercial. Or perhaps for that matter, why it was more offensive that Kobe was in the commercial rather than someone else. In case you haven't seen it, the video is included in this article.
People have raised the "it sets a bad example for kids" argument, which is easily countered by the commercial's playful nature, similarity to numerous PG and PG-13 movies (no one even dies) and clearly stated "MATURE" rating for the game. But that isn't even the most laughable criticism.
There is the "it fits in with the athletes and guns stereotype" argument, which calls to mind memories of Gilbert Arenas' personal fiasco and numerous other situations in which athletes have been wandering around with real guns and making threats using them. Gee, can anyone see the difference between that and Kobe being in a commercial?
Further more, why would it be more offensive for Kobe to be in the commercial rather than any no-name actor? It wouldn't and it isn't.
The critics are actually upset by the fact that the commercial supports a violent game. Last time I checked, violent games and commercials with guns are still legal in this country. There is no reason to suspend a broadcaster and advertisers' rights to do their jobs because a small sect of society is unreasonably sensitive to this particular issue.
To the majority of Americans, the existence of violent commercials doesn't even pose a problem. When there is an actual problem with something being broadcast, there are federal policies that govern it.
If this got past the federal safety net, it is likely because it was deemed a non-issue.
So why should it bother anyone that Kobe was in an approved commercial? In fact, Kobe was in an awesome game commercial with a wonderful soundtrack ("Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones). I'd like to commend the marketing gurus for Call of Duty. I've never previously bought one of their games, but after seeing that specific commercial I might have to. Job well done.
If the NBA decided to punish Kobe for this in any regard, they would be setting a terrible precedent and simultaneously discouraging valuable business partnerships.
So how much of our freedom as Americans should be controlled by the unreasonable opinions of a few ESPN talking heads who are trying to create news on a slow news day? I'd say absolutely none.
And I'd say ESPN's talking heads owe Kobe Bryant an apology.