Kobe Bryant Sports Darkened Skin In Controversial Fashion Shoot

Kerry Pieri

Kobe Bryant in the L.A. Times Magazine styled by James Valeri. Photos: Ruven Afandor.

L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant is no stranger to controversy although this most recent one must feel like a breath of fresh air compared to the scandals that currently take up space in his bio.

Bryant appears in the L.A. Times Magazine this week with a noticeably darkened complexion, insouciant expression, and dressed in the likes of all-white Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens and Kris Van Assche. The result from the multi-page spread? The basketball superstar seems to enjoy playing the role of male model and isn’t afraid of going more fashion-y.

But while we applaud Kobe’s move off the court, we’re not so sure about the darker skin tone. Is this some strange (never mind inappropriate) use of the current blackface trend in modeling? And from the readers in the comments section of the pub, we’re not the only ones that are perturbed.

Detractors like commenter Seely-Iggy took special issue with Kobe’s altered complexion, writing online to the mag, “I hate every single one of them, period. What’d they do to his skin tone? Photoshop it several shades darker? The real Kobe has a beautiful shade and this Photoshop shenanigans comes across as fake! BOO!”

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Sunnyboi had a less intense take, “Kobe looks like a Nigerian supermodel. Hahaha!! But we still love you even though you go for faux chic styles like this.”

We all know sports fans have distinctive points of view and those with opinions weren’t all detractors. Commenter Rick Freeman wrote, “Oh, c’mon! Do you guys really live in such a small box that you can’t open your mind to such an unorthodox vision of Kobe? I was fascinated by the opportunity to expand my vision of The Mamba’s possibilities.”

Further proving #24 needs to add this guy to his Christmas list, he continued, “This should tell you, we’re just seeing the beginning of infinity. I, for one, like what I see.”

We’re guessing Kobe agreed to the shoot for some publicity, and with the increasing spate of feedback, he’s definitely got some. But Bryant isn’t one to go unanswered. Kobe commented on the ruckus and teammates including Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom also gave their two-cents on the shoot in the video below.

Let us know what you think of all the uproar in the comments.

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Photos: Ruven Afandor

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