Los Angeles Lakers first-round pick Larry Nance, Jr. apologized to fans for a tweet sent three years ago in reference to Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case.
Nance apologized on Twitter, saying in part, “I know I left a terrible first impression, and I apologize for the entire incident. But I plan to earn your respect by wearing the purple and gold honorably and giving you all I have on and off the court.”
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 just minutes after he was drafted.
Bryant was accused of sexual assault and arrested in Colorado in 2003 after a woman said she was raped by Bryant in a hotel room. The case was eventually dropped and Bryant settled a civil lawsuit with his accuser.
Nance said he was "terrified" of Bryant’s potential reaction to the tweet because of Bryant’s intensity and reached out to him to send his apologizes. He said he felt “embarrassed” about the tweet.
“I was nervous to send him a long message and then just get an 'Okay,' or not a response at all. I'm just so, so glad he handled that in the manner he did,” Nance said at his introductory press conference. “I still could be up here with a stomach in my knot, or a knot in my stomach. But he did a terrific job and I can't thank him enough for forgiving me."
Nance, who averaged 16.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior at Wyoming, says he will be addressing the five-time champion and 17-time All-Star as “Mr. Bryant” until told otherwise.
"Until he says, 'I'm Kobe to you,' he's going to be 'Mr. Bryant' and 'sir,'" Nance said.
Bryant said over the weekend that he considers the matter closed.
“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...’
- Scooby Axson