Back in 2004, Kobe Bryant went through an entire rough time in his life after being accused of sexual assault in Vail, Colorado. Bryant’s legal troubles had a severe ripple effect with the NBA superstar losing sponsors and seeing his public reputation tarnished.
Along with the impact it had on Kobe’s career and status with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant was most concerned about his family and the relationship with his wife, Vanessa. Kobe said the following about incident back in 2004 and how it altered his thinking moving forward in his documentary, MUSE via Sam Amick of USA Today:
I lost sight of what is the most important thing, and that’s family,” Bryant, who long ago acknowledged to having a consensual encounter with his accuser but always said he was innocent of her allegations, says in the documentary. “It’s the man’s job to protect your family. It’s the man’s job to look out for your family. … It’s the man’s job to always be the anchor of stability for your family. From that aspect, I failed miserably.”
Everything began to fall apart for Kobe in 2004 in more ways than one. Bryant’s sexual assault case was his biggest concern for obvious reasons, but it went much deeper for the Lakers star.
After losing to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat and head coach Phil Jackson chose not to return to Los Angeles. So along with Bryant’s off-the-court issues threatening to jeopardize his future, the Lakers were no longer the dominant force in the NBA.
Fortunately, Bryant’s case was dropped and that ugly part of his life was behind him. Once his problems off the court were no longer an issue, Bryant rebounded quickly by becoming the face of the Lakers franchise. Kobe began to dominate the competition with some incredible individual performances, including his historic 81-point game in 2006.[divide]