Judgment Days

His life under fire in two different courts, Kobe has never felt so alone.

Originally Published: November 10, 2003
By Tom Friend | ESPN The Magazine
When it's time to tune it all out, when all the he said, she said and the he said, Shaq said gets too damn depressing, the defendant hops on his motorcycle. It's just him then. No sullen wife, no men-in-black, no psychos in the stands, no Inside Edition. Just him and his favorite tight leather jacket. Just him and an open road and a speedometer pushing 60, 70, 80 ...

Now that's free on bail! Because the rest of it is not about being free. Lighting up the Bucks for 31 is sweet, don't get him wrong, especially when the crowd is booing like he's guilty as charged. But otherwise, it's painful to need security 24/7, it's painful to live in a cocoon of wife, baby, agent, trainer, bodyguards. It's painful to grow back 20 pounds of muscle during the season. It's painful to hold conference calls with lawyers on game days and to go back to that godforsaken Colorado courthouse. It's painful to hear that you're a burden to your team, and to have reporters psychoanalyzing your tattoos, and to have cameramen constantly aiming straight between your eyes.

Tom Friend

ESPN Senior Writer
Tom Friend is a senior writer for and a features reporter for ESPN TV. He has formerly worked for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Sports Daily, Kansas City Star and San Jose Mercury News.