Nance was the No. 27 pick after averaging 16.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior for Wyoming. On May 1, 2012, he tweeted, “Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time..” and added “#rapist” at the end. The tweet was deleted shortly after Nance was drafted.
Bryant was accused of sexual assault and arrested in 2003 after a woman said Bryant raped her in a Colorado hotel room. The case was eventually dropped and Bryant and the accuser settled a civil lawsuit.
During a conversation with ESPN’s Jemele Hill at the BET Experience on Saturday, Bryant said that between a lecture from Lakers general Mitch Kupchak and the surrounding fallout from the tweet, Nance had learned.
“The kid figured it out himself,” Bryant said. “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...’
“He was really nice and apologetic about what had happened and stuff. I said, ‘Listen, we’ve all said things and done things which we wish we can take back. Water under the bridge, man. Welcome to the team.”
Nance, 22, is the son of former NBA player Larry Nance, who was a three-time All-Star and the winner of the 1984 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
- Mike Fiammetta