Kobe Bryant on Upcoming Election: 'You Know What Candidate I'm Supporting'

Eric Pincus@@EricPincusLA Lakers Lead WriterNovember 2, 2016

Photo Credit: Nike
Photo Credit: NikeNike

LOS ANGELES — On Tuesday, former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant urged America's young adults to get out and vote in next week's national election.

"It's extremely important," Bryant said. "The discussion that [I] always have centers around, 'How do you educate the youth about the issues so that they have a clear perspective of what they're voting on?'"

"That's how you influence change."

Photo Credit: Nike
Photo Credit: NikeNike

Making an appearance at the Mamba Gallery, Bryant unveiled his first signature shoe since retiring from the NBA, the Nike "Kobe A.D."

Bryant wouldn't explicitly endorse a presidential candidate, although he gave some nebulous hints.

"I think we don't have to all randomly guess what side of the fence that I'm on," Bryant said. "For those that support the opposite of what you believe my point of view...and if you know me for many years, I think you know what candidate I'm supporting...then God bless you, that's your point of view."

Bryant has previously supported President Barack Obama, releasing the "Kobe X Elite 'Commander'" last year, inspired by his relationship with the two-term president.

"Kobe has long looked up to the commander in chief, and not just because of his hoops game," Nike explained in 2015 (via The Hill).

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

In December 2014, Bryant made a political statement in support of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by a New York police officer. He and his Lakers teammates wore black-and-white T-shirts that read "I Can't Breathe" during pregame warm-ups.

"I think it would be a serious disservice to limit this to a race issue. It's a justice issue," Bryant told the Los Angeles Times in December 2014.

Several NBA stars have recently used their platforms to help influence voters.

Cleveland Cavaliers champion LeBron James gave his endorsement to Hillary Clinton in October.

Bryant said he supports efforts from current NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and James to be a voice for social justice.

"I think it's great. What I've tried to do on the back end of that is try to help the youth understand what those issues are," Bryant said. "It's one thing to talk about it and say we need change...but what does that actually look like?"

Bryant stressed technology and education as the cornerstones.

"We have a democratic system. You can vote and choose what you want to support and what you don't want to support, but having the knowledge of understanding what you're voting for is the most important thing," Bryant said. "The platforms that we have available in social media can make the process a very seamless one. But it's about organizing that information in a way that's easily digestible."

Photo Credit: Nike
Photo Credit: NikeNike

In April, Bryant retired from the NBA after 20 years, playing his entire career with the Lakers.

Putting his energy into his many business ventures, Bryant said he doesn't miss being on the court.

"It's funny, not even a little bit," he said.

Instead, he worked closely with Nike on the Kobe A.D., which will be available on Nov. 22.

"How can we be more efficient? How can a player make a turn without compromising stability or losing seconds on the turn? It's all that little geeky stuff that we put in there," Bryant said of his signature shoe.

Bryant hasn't seen enough of the 2016-17 Lakers to form much of an opinion.

"I haven't been there. I have no idea," Bryant said. "I know [head coach] Luke [Walton] extremely well and I have an idea of how he's going to manage the group from being around them.

"I think they'll be fine, they're young. I think they're going to go through their ups and downs. They'll have moments where they play extremely well and moments when they play horrendously poor. It's just the process of it.

"It's just learning as you go."


All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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