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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Charles Barkley Speaks Out on Kobe Bryant Case

Aired August 21, 2003 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, a primetime exclusive. Former NBA star Charles Barkley speaks out about his friend Kobe Bryant and the media circus surrounding a sexual assault case, on the day when the judge decides to unseal some documents in the case. Sir Charles will even join our panel later, with Court TV's Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor, high profile defense attorney Chris Pixley. An exclusive hour you don't want to miss. Inside the mind of Kobe Bryant with Charles Barkley, one of the NBA's best players ever. And hands down the most outspoken.
He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

He is not only one of the greatest basketball players ever to lace on a pair of sneakers, NBA's most valuable player in 1993, and the NBA analyst now for CNN's sister network TNT. And he's one of the best analysts in the game.

The judge has decided to unseal some of the documents. When the panel assembles, we'll get the legal look at that.

But first, reaction, Charles. What's your reaction to this whole Kobe matter?

CHARLES BARKLEY, FMR. NBA STAR: Well, I just feel bad, number one , for Kobe, because he's somebody I admire and respect. I feel bad for the young lady involved. And that's the worst thing about being famous, Larry. You've probably have been through it, man. When something go bad, it is a complete media circus. And you just become fodder for everybody. And it's a tough situation.

KING: Did we have the wrong image of him?

BARKLEY: Well, first of all, I still like Kobe Bryant. What he does in his personal life, that's none of my business. I still think he's a great basketball player. He's always treated me well. But I don't judge guys by what they do in their personal life. That's their personal business.

And, you know, it's kind of like the whole theory, image, whatever, is bogus because it's just dictated by how you treat the press. If you treat them good, they're going to write really nice things about you. And if you don't kiss up so them, they're going to write bad things and tell people what a bad person you are. I mean, that's just how it is.

KING: So you're saying Kobe handled the press very well, and for that he got good press?

BARKLEY: Well, you know, if you treat them well, they're going to write good things about you. And he's a great player. But the whole image thing is kind of -- I'm not even sure the right word to use, man. It's really dictated by how you can fool the press and really the public. I mean, listen, I don't know -- first of all, nobody knows what happened in that room that night but them two.

But it's just funny. I've heard some really derogatory things said about Kobe. I've heard some derogatory things said about the girl. And only thing I ever heard is any facts in the case.

KING: Yes. What do you make of how well the authorities there in Colorado have handled it so far?

BARKLEY: Well, it's really a tough situation for them. I just -- the one thing that does bother me, when the thing first went down, I don't think prosecutors should get on television every day and go to different networks. I mean, they increase it and make it a media circus. And I understand being famous, that's a negative side of it. But I don't understand why prosecutors have the right -- they should just show their evidence, present the trial, and whatever happens. But if you're on television every day, it just creates more of a media circus.

KING: Do you think also that the media feels Kobe, when he admitted to adultery, sort of said -- threw it in their face? You know, I was pretending all this time to be Joe Good Guy.

BARKLEY: Well, I thin I just -- we --you know, everybody jumped on Mark Cuban when he said his thing a couple weeks ago. And I love Mark Cuban. But the truth of the matter, people love controversy. It's even better when sex is involved. I just feel bad. Like I say, I feel bad for Kobe, I feel bad for the young lady, I feel bad for Kobe's wife.

And the media, they're kind of in a unique situation. They're always in a win-win. When Kobe plays great basketball, they win. And when he does something wrong, they win also.

KING: Now Mark Cuban said that, unfortunately, notoriety sells and that Kobe -- this case -- is good for the NBA. I know you like Mark a lot. Do you agree with that statement?

BARKLEY: You know, I think, to a certain degree, it was taken out of context. It's great attention.

I tell you a story, Larry. For some reason, America, they love things. I was watching television today. And they have Monica Lewinsky and Heidi Fleiss on there. I'm trying to figure out why them two are on television, I might add. But I kind of had to laugh. I did. I laughed totally, because I'm trying to figure out what purpose -- and I got nothing against these other ladies. But I'm just trying to figure out why they deserve the right to be on television. But that just says that -- man, people just love stuff like this, whether we want to admit it or not. KING: What about the NBA and philandering? Elizabeth Kay, the author of a book about the Lakers dynasty called "Ain't No Tomorrow," said the motto of the NBA players is "Play ball, get laid, sleep in." The ex-wife of one of the NBA players claims, "I don't think there's a single faithful man in the NBA. And if there is one, his wife has a very short leash on him."

BARKLEY: Well, that's one of the reasons I wanted to say something.

First of all, I think that's totally unfair. First of all, the lady was just trying to sell her book. And let me just say for the record, I'm not going to condone or try to protect NBA players. They gave -- that's their own thing. My point is, if they are doing that, we're not the only ones. You know, there's some doctors out there, some lawyers, Mayor Giuliani was doing it, Katharine Hepburn was doing it. There's a lot of people who do it. But it's not fair to just say all athletes are like that.

I thought it was really stupid what that girl said too. Because she can only judge men by her husband. And I thought that was really ignorant and unfair.

KING: What are the pitfalls of NBA stardom? The temptations are there, aren't -- I mean, there's more temptations for an NBA player coming into Milwaukee or New York than for a lawyer going to do a trial in Memphis. True?

BARKLEY: I think if you -- first of all, if you've got money, or you a good looking person, there's always going to be temptation and opportunity. I mean, you can be a guy who work at the supermarket. If you look good, girls are going to talk to you. There's guys who walking around the street who got a lot of money. They're going to get women. But I think it's unfair -- obviously, professional athletes have a chance just as anybody else. But I think it's unfair to throw it in the lap of just professional athletes because like I say -- man, if you're a good looking guy, or a good looking girl, people are going to want to go out with you. And if you've got money, people are going to want to go out with you. but it's not fair to say just all these athletes are doing this.

KING: When you played, weren't there -- I mean, wasn't it just easy on the plate for you? Wasn't it -- for example, were there a lot of women -- were you ever concerned that women were trying to use you or embarrass you or get money from you?

BARKLEY: Well, I think it's all of the above. I mean, there's women who want money. There's women who try to put you in uncomfortable situations.

I mean, it's -- Larry, when you're -- like I say, when you've got money -- it really goes down to the money. It has nothing to do with being in the NBA or being a star or whatever. It goes with the power, having a lot of money, because unfortunately, in our country, when people equate success with money. And we all want somebody who got a lot of money. I mean, that's the truth of the matter. KING: We're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll ask Charles Barkley about Kobe playing this year, what effect that will have, Kobe and his endorsements.

And then after that segment, we'll bring in the whole panel. We'll also be including your phone calls.

Carol Burnett tomorrow night.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Sir Charles Barkley, the former NBA star. NBA most valuable player, and the NBA analyst for CNN's sister network TNT. You'll be seeing him all fall. What about Kobe and playing this year, Charles?

BARKLEY: Well, you know Larry, it's funny you mention that. I've been saying Kobe should play all season, but sometime in the last few days, I think it's going to be such a distraction. I think, number one, there's some really evil fans out there who are going to be shouting some things. And there's going to be Kobe supporters who are going to shout some things. I think there's going to be a couple of altercations at games.

You know, like I said, I'm going to support Kobe. I don't know what happened. I support him because he's a fellow jock. But I tell you what, it's going to be a long season. I don't think the trial is going to start until next summer. Like I say, there's some evil fans out there. Like 90 percent of the fans are great. 10 percent, we just kill them and the world will be in a better place. And they're going to be shouting some things at Kobe. And the thing is, nobody in this world except those two people know what's happened. And I just feel bad for everybody involved.

KING: So, are you saying because of that circus atmosphere which will be around every Laker game, every Laker preseason game, maybe he shouldn't play?

BARKLEY: Well, it's not my -- I'm just -- that's just my opinion. I think -- obviously it's going to be a huge distraction. I mean, a huge distraction. And it's going to be a huge circus. And it's going to be very difficult. If he can handle it, God bless him. But I wouldn't wish that upon anybody.

KING: We also forget how young Kobe is. He's only just going to be just 24. He came right out of high school.

BARKLEY: Yes, I think his birthday is coming up sometime in the next week or so. But he's still a really young kid. Let me emphasize this too, Larry, man, I don't judge guys about their personal life. I think -- I'm supporting Kobe number one, because he's a jock. But I just hope that everybody gets through this thing.

And the thing is, her life is messed up forever and his life is messed up forever. Because no matter what happens, obviously if he goes to jail, that's bad. But even if he's acquitted there's going to be people who are going to believe he did it and he only got off because he's Kobe Bryant. That's the one thing about being famous or rich. People think you get off because of that. No matter if you're innocent or not.

KING: That same author, Elizabeth Kay, who you criticize also said, race has everything to do with this case. She said, there would be nowhere near this much attention if the alleged victim was black. Do you agree?

BARKLEY: Well, that's not true, because we went through this before with the Mike Tyson situation. First of all, I don't know Elizabeth Kay, but she's doing a good job of selling her book because people love sordid details. That's unfair because it was -- this thing probably -- it's not near as bad as Mike Tyson, I don't think, if I remember back correctly. But it might turn into that, the way things are going.

KING: So, you don't think race is an issue here?

BARKLEY: Well, I think race is always an issue in America. I do. It's unfortunate. It's sad. But you know, also Kobe has one disadvantage to being black. And a woman's white. But also he has an advantage having money. Because in this country, in the judicial system, money is a great equalizer. I mean, you look at some of the stuff that's happened in this country with guys running these big corporations. Enron, Tyco, Adelphia. Those guys would be under the jail if they were poor. So money -- race gives him a disadvantage, but money gives him an advantage.

KING: LeBron James just signed a six-year marketing deal with Coca-Cola, he's going to be the key endorser of Sprite and Power-Aid. He hasn't played an NBA game yet.

Sprite has stopped running some of its Kobe ads for the time being. What about Kobe and marketing?

BARKLEY: Well, I think -- that's the way it is, Larry. It's unfortunate. It's kind of weird, because like two months ago, Kobe Bryant was one of the nicest, greatest people in the world. And even without having the evidence half the people are calling him mud, and that's unfair.

But it's going to be really difficult. Because that's a serious charge. Man, that is a serious charge. So like if you get arrested for DUI or something, hopefully -- something like that, that's totally different. But man, this sexual assault stuff is so difficult. It's going to be really hard for a company to touch him whenever this thing is over.

KING: So you understand how the companies feel, then?

BARKLEY: Oh, no question. Because this is a little -- I don't think we've ever -- even if you look at like O.J. Simpson's never going to get another endorsement. It's going to be very difficult for Mike Tyson. Because when we're talking about -- like we all make mistakes. Only God is perfect. The rest of us are just humans. We're going to do things wrong. But this is a really serious subject. I mean, there's never an excuse to hit a woman. The sexual thing is a really tough call. Because it always comes down to he said, she said.

The one thing I always contend, Larry, I've been through this criminal process I think five or six times. The only time I've ever been scared in my life. You feel like when they say, we've got a verdict, when you stand up. I think my heart is going to pop out of my chest.

KING: What did you go through?

BARKLEY: A couple of civil suits, as far as getting in altercations. And they weren't nearly as serious as having a chance to go to prison for a long time. But the one thing that scares me when they say a jury of your peers, I have never looked over there and saw my friends. I have never looked over there and say, hey guys, how are you all doing? I've never known another person over there. That's the scariest part.

KING: By the way, are you going to run for governor of Alabama?

BARKLEY: I'm going to make a decision. They've got a really huge thing coming up with a tax plan. It happens in the next election in September. I'm going to make a decision after that.

KING: I know you're a Republican. Are you supporting anyone in the California race?

BARKLEY: You know, I think it's really cool that Arnold is getting in that race. A lot of people -- first of all, they try to put him down because he's an actor. But if you look at all those other people who are in politics, most of them are in the son business. They're the son of somebody.

Arnold Schwarzenegger to me is a hero because he came to this country with nothing and made himself a hero. That should count for something. Whether you think he's smart enough or whatever, you've got to give that guy credit for coming to this country with nothing and making himself a success.

KING: Sir Charles Barkley will remain with us, one of the all time great basketball player, and a top analyst for TNT. Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, and Dr. Robbie Ludwig will join us. He'll remain with the panel. We'll take your phone calls in a little while too. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's reintroduce. Still with us in Philadelphia is Charles Barkley, former NBA great, now with CNN's is us network TNT.

Nancy Grace, anchor of "Closing Arguments" on Court TV, and the former prosecutor.

In Atlanta, defense attorney, Chris Pixley.

In New York, psychologist Dr. Robi Ludwig.

Before we ask the panel on what Charles has had to say.

We'll start with Nancy (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Judge decided to unseal some of the documents in connection with the case including the arrest warrant. The search warrant remains sealed. And he gave the defense 10 days to file an appeal before anything is released.

What's your read on that -- Nancy.

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: At first when I heard it, I thought that it was a thunderbolt of information. A search warrant basically outlines some probable causes to why you want to make the search. Same thing in an arrest. What you're searching for. Then you have the return attached. In other words, what you found. But specifically in Roman numeral 2 of the judge's findings he's not releasing the affidavit attached to that search warrant. In other words, what police were thinking. In other words, this girl came to the police station, she was bruised, she was bloody, whatever those facts may have been is not going to be released. We're not getting the nitty gritty.

KING: What will be released?

GRACE: We're going dog the search warrant without the affidavit attached. We're going to find out more about the specific charges, more about his arrest and more about his bond. We'll get a little more knowledge. But not what would have been provided in that affidavit.

KING: Chris, will the defense use those 10 days and appeal?

CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't expect an appeal from the defense or from the prosecution. No, I actually expect an appeal from the media right now. Again, the immediate reaction from the press to this 20-page ruling, which is steeped in a lot of legalese, was, my god the judge is releasing the arrest warrant and aspects of the search warrant! The fact of the matter is he's releasing the form document which is the arrest warrant. He is not releasing the affidavits which support the search warrants. That's where the guts and information surrounding this case lie. So he ultimately said he's protecting the defendant's right to fair trial by keeping this closed.

KING: Looking into his head, do you think that's the reason?

PIXLEY: Well, I think if you look into the paper, what he said in the ruling itself, he is concerned at this point in time that the defendant's sixth amendment rights would be violated if he opened up the affidavits behind the arrest warrant or behind the search warrant. He's doing what he can for the media. He's letting them see the documents. The warrants themselves, without letting them see the supporting material behind the decision.

GRACE: I don't think that's it. I don't think that's it, Larry. I think his reasoning on the surface is what Chris said, because that's what he writes in the order. But I think the reality, and this is a real nuts and bolts judge, that is he knows the prelim is coming down the pipe pretty early. He's on the expedited hearing schedule for this case in particular. And once the prelim happens, it's out in the open, so why not keep it secret for 30 more days?

PIXLEY: But remember, Nancy's absolutely right, but remember the defense still has the opportunity to waive the preliminary hearing. In a high profile case like this you've got a whole different set of rules. You know, Normally as a defense attorney, you want to go through with the preliminary hearing because it's going to give you some information about the prosecution's case. Whatever aspect of their hand they decide to tip. In this particular situation, where the media is going to be analyzing all the information that comes out, it may not be worthwhile for you to go through with the preliminary hearing. So Nancy's right, if the preliminary hearing happens. But if it doesn't, none of this information will come out on October (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Dr. Ludwig, what's the effect on the public, the more information it gets?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: They will certainly have more of an idea about whether they think Kobe Bryant is guilty or not. They will start to analyze what happened on that night, and start to make an assessment, as they probably are already doing. You know, You see these images, and it's like a docu-drama playing out. What happens as a result is you begin to see these people, not as real people, but as flat, one-dimensional type of people. There's the good one, the bad one, the sick one. So I think people will start to categorize all the players in this case the more information that they get.

KING: Sir Charles, how much do you want to know about this before it starts?

BARKLEY: I don't want to know anything about it, Larry. Because first of all, I saw a very interesting poll. You asked me earlier if race matters. When the poll in the USA Today last week said, 70 percent of black folks think he's innocent, 70 percent of white folks think he's guilty. And when they start throwing all this information out there, that's just going to make things worse. I mean, then it's going to become more of a media circus. I mean, a couple of weeks ago, I was riding an exercise bike. I sat and watched the back of Kobe Bryant's head for seven minutes, and it was on every TV station in the gym. And it was just a waste of time. And I bet the preliminary hearing is going to be a waste of time also.

GRACE: No, I don't think it was a waste of time, Mr. Barkley. No offense. I'm a big fan. But whenever the public sees somebody, even as great a player as Kobe Bryant, as great a celebrity, as much money, you said money's the biggest factor here and I agree. But when you see that everybody is going to be treated the same under the law, I think it's worth the seven minutes. I really do.

BARKLEY: The problem with that is they don't treat everybody the same. Because most people don't have to go to that. If they're arrested in that state...

GRACE: Yes, they do.

BARKLEY: Not everybody.

GRACE: Most people wouldn't get a light bond for $25,000. If he didn't have money, he would be under the jail, Mr. Barkley.

KING: Go ahead, Charles.

BARKLEY: Go ahead, Larry.

KING: Chris, how much do we -- is this a circus -- are we devoting too much to this too soon?

PIXLEY: I think we are.

KING: Or is that just the nature of the beast?

PIXLEY: I think we are devoting too much to it, too soon. And as much as Nancy and I have agreed in the past about the value of having cameras in the courtroom for a trial, I've got to agree with Charles about the amount of information that we are entitled to and that we can really handle at this point in the game. Maybe the preliminary hearing is something that should be publicized. But these advanced hearings I don't think are deserving of all of the attention that they receive, because we know so little about the case.

KING: Dr. Ludwig, do you like the British system where we'd be learning nothing until the trial's over?

LUDWIG: That's not the American way, and I don't think we need to go to that extreme. What's noticeable here is that there is an imbalance, because we don't know who the victim is. She could be anybody. But we do know who Kobe is. So we constantly see him in the media. He does have a good support team that is advising him on how to act. But that is the problem, and it does raise an interesting legal issue. Does the defendant have a right to not being known and identified the same as the claimant in a rape case? Because I mean, as everybody has said, this guy's reputation is on the line. And it could impact, if it hasn't already, his career. And it could be impacting an innocent man. So there's some interesting legal issues that probably should be looked at as a result of this case.

KING: Good viewpoint. We'll take a break, come back, start to include your phone calls for Charles Barkley, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley and Dr. Robi Ludwig.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Charles Barkley in Philadelphia, Nancy Grace in New York, Chris Pixley in Atlanta and Dr. Robbie Ludwig in New York.

Before we take the first call, Chris wanted to add something about the racial issue?

PIXLEY: Well, Larry, Charles brought it up. I quite honestly have been a been a little tired of hearing that race isn't going to play a factor in this trial. We've heard it from the media repeatedly now when we talk about Eagle County. The fact of the matter when is Kobe Bryant steps into that courtroom, he's not going to be wearing his basketball uniform, he's not going to be flanked by 6'6" athletes. He's going to be standing next to his female attorney, she stands fully a foot shorter than him and he's going to be compared consciously or subconsciously to his white accuser who's also much smaller.

So you take his physical stature coupled with his race, and the fact of the matter is, it's very likely to scare the all-while jury that he will get in Eagle County. And he's going to have to be extremely well-mannered and really handle himself well to overcome that handicap.

I've just been very surprised to hear across the board that no one thinks race is going to be a factor.

GRACE: You didn't hear from it me, Chris Pixley. I have never said that.

PIXLEY: And I didn't accuse you of it.

GRACE: You said across the board, and I consider myself to be part of the board.

KING: Nancy, do you think it is a factor?

GRACE; Yes, anybody that says race is not a factor in any trial in this country is fooling themselves or they're unfamiliar with the system. You have to, you must, get a jury that is reflective of the community, and a jury that will benefit your client, be the victim or the defendant. However, I still say even with race as a factor, Larry, the great equalizer is the money. The money that Kobe Bryant has. That's the great equalizer.

KING: You agree with that, Charles?

BARKLEY: Yes, I totally agree with that. Obviously, Chris is 100 percent right, and Nancy, race is huge. Probably the most unfortunate thing in this country. It's unfortunate that -- that's the thing about me, about that poll, that we haven't heard a stitch of evidence, and 70 percent of black folks think he's innocent, but 70 percent of white folks think he's guilty.

GRACE: You know what, you haven't mentioned, Mr. Barkley, or you Chris, any of us. We're all talking about race and money. What about the sex aspect in this case? How easy it is to throw out there that this girl is some kind of tramp or a sleep-around. We don't know that but on day two, that was on every headline in this country. Her face on the Internet, you name it, claiming she is some kind of a tramp because of this case and this case alone. That's not right. PIXLEY: Similarly, Nancy, we as a result of this case, seem to have accused every professional basketball player in America of being an adulterer and tramping around.

KING: Dr. Ludwig

BARKLEY: Thank you Chris.

KING: Do you want to throw something in? And then I'll got to calls Robbie.

LUDWIG: I think we have to consider that Kobe Bryant is a very charismatic figure. And that he does make a very good impression. And that will have a powerful impact on the jury. And also, the prosecution is going to have to prove that this girl did not want to be with one of the most eligible men on the planet. Now granted, a rape case is not about sex, it's about anger and power. But still, it's all going to get merged together.

KING: Miami, Florida as we go to calls, hello.

CALLER: Hello, yes. I'm calling in reference to Kobe Bryant endorsements. And I know in the court you're innocent until proven guilty. And I know he's like on a sexual charges but what happened to Ray Lewis when he was on the murder charge but yet and still he has his endorsements? So what's the difference between a sexual assault charge and murder charge?

KING: I don't know. Charles Barkley, did Ray Lewis keep his endorsements through that murder trial?

BARKLEY: Well, Ray is getting some endorsements now. Well, Ray didn't got to trial.

KING: Now, but I don't think he had any then.

BARKLEY: No. Well, first of all, he's an unbelievable player. I don't know a lot about that case. I know nothing really happened. But should case is going to trial. And when it comes to aggressiveness toward women, that's like a total other thing. Ray never went to trial, never went through this entire process to be honest with you, ma'am.

KING: Los Angeles, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Good evening, Mr. King and Mr. Barkley. My question is basically, as far as the media circus, I truly believe that this woman was black or brown or another woman of color, this would not be the kind of case that you are having right now.

KING: A lot of people think that. Nancy, what do you think? Would the prosecution be as tough? Of course Eagle County would be hard because there's so few blacks. Would the prosecution be as tough, let's say, in New York if the victim were black?

GRACE: You're darn right. When it comes to a rape case like this, especially a high profile defendant, no way is the prosecution going to back down off of this. And a correction regarding Ray Lewis, his endorsements started rolling in after he got off on a murder charge...

KING: After he was exonerated.

GRACE: He did go to trial. Then, his, as Charles was saying, then his endorsements started rolling in.

KING: He was exonerated at the trial.

BARKLEY: Hey Larry, let me just say this also. First of all the caller is wrong because this case to me is not nearly like the Mike Tyson case. And that case was like, other than O.J. Simpson, the trial of the century. So, I think her premise the young lady is white is biased and unfair.

KING: Tacoma, Washington, hello.

CALLER: My question is for Miss Grace. I want to know if Kobe is found innocent of all these charges, could he bring -- could he file charges himself against the sheriff or the young lady?

GRACE: Yes, he could. But let me tell you right up front, there is a theory in this country, and pretty much worldwide, called sovereign immunity, it means the king can do no wrong. Normally, you don't win a case like that. The reason is it would dissuade police and prosecutors from going forward on cases they believed in if they thought they were going to get their pants sued off afterwards if they lose the case. So, yes, he could, but it would probably be unsuccessful.

KING: Portland, Oregon, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I'd like to ask Charles Barkley why he thinks Kobe Bryant should play this whole year, when actually he's a role model for young children.

KING: He said he was having second thoughts about that. Charles, what do you think? Have you come to a decision? Should he play or not play? And does the role model play a part?

BARKLEY: No. The role-model doesn't -- first of all, any parent out there that's telling their kids to be like anybody else, other than them, they're stupid parents. Secondly, it's up to Kobe Bryant whether he wants to play or not. I just said, first I was for him because he is innocent until proven guilty. But I think this is going to be so distracting and such a media circus throughout the year, it might -- I'm not -- like I say, I'm just throwing something out there it might be better if he didn't play.

You are innocent until proven guilty. But the NBA is never -- I'm not sure any professional sport has ever been through anything like this, an ongoing thing. Especially now in media times.

KING: Dr. Ludwig, what do you think the effect of playing will be on the team, the teammates, the opponents?

LUDWIG: Well, it raises an interesting issue. I wonder if they would resent all of the attention that Kobe Bryant is getting. Because the way he is described by certain teammates is that he tends to kind of be separate, his own man. But I imagine that they're used to this.

Also, in pro sports, and Charles Barkley can back me up here, is that rookies are often warned about anonymous women as being dangerous. So, they may feel for him and try to support him in any way the can. So, it would be interesting to see.

KING: To Alpharetta, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I have a question for Charles Barkley.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I wanted to know his opinion on the big media circus that was going on when Kobe bought his wife a ring. To me, it just seemed like something that every man does. If you were an average income man and you did something wrong and you're sorry, you take you wife off to dinner and buy her flowers. If you are wealthy the gifts are bigger. And also, my opinion is that the media could cut him a break when the basketball season starts by not focusing on him until he goes to trial.

KING: That won't happen.

CALLER: Until he does have -- he does have a job and even if we didn't hear anything until the trial starts, what will me miss?

KING: Yes, but that won't happen. He'll be focused on. What about the ring Charles?

BARKLEY: Hey, that's that man's own business. You know -- first of all, Kobe Bryant, I've always said, he doesn't owe anybody in this world an apology for what he did except his wife. Like I said, nobody knows what happened. He said, she said. But that's between him and his wife, the adultery stuff. Man, it's funny, they make -- I heard that his wife get criticized for taking the ring saying she should have left. They're making a point of what kind of clothes he wears. He can't go into the awards show.

What do they want him to do, stay in the house the next year?

LUDWIG: Charles, I would like to say something about that diamond ring. I think you're right in a way, what goes on between a married couple is between them. However, he is a public figure. I think the diamond ring was definitely or most likely a guilt gift. Kobe Bryant is probably scared to death, and that is the right feeling for him to have. He may even be afraid that his wife will leave him or take him to the cleaners. The downside about getting such an extravagant gift is it could send the message to people looking, I can do whatever I want, because I have so much money I can buy people into being, you know, into liking me. So that is the downside of doing something like that.

KING: In other words, Chris, it don't look good.

PIXLEY: I didn't like it. And I don't think that his defense counsel, when it became public at the very least, liked it very much. But, you know, there's other things that are becoming public too that can be spun in so many different ways. The 911 call that was made from his home on July 3rd, the day before he had to turn himself in when the arrest was issued -- arrest warrant was issued, has been spun as though it is a bad thing. I'm not so sure it is. It indicates that his conversation with his wife about this adultery, about what had gone on, was something that she took very seriously, was something that caused a real problem for them. And that suggests that this may not be normal behavior for him. And that is what his counsel wants that jury to believe in court.

KING: Got to get a break. We'll come back with more calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We'll discuss it.

We're back. We go to Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Hello. My question is for Chris.

PIXLEY: Yes.

CALLER: I would like to know, since the Colorado D.A. and police messed up the JonBenet case so badly, don't you think they're over- anxious to convict someone high profile like Kobe?

KING: It's a different city in Colorado, but go ahead.

PIXLEY: It's not the same D.A.'s office. In one respect you make an excellent point, and that is when you have a high profile defendant, someone that the entire public knows across the country who is involved in a potential crime, Nancy and I have disagreed on this before and I'd love to hear her thoughts. My feeling is that there is a great deal of pressure to bring a successful case against them. Now this D.A., Mark Hurlbert, has said, we won't treat this case any differently than the next one. But as Charles has pointed out, he then for a week or so went on every television program, talking about the case. Of course they are treating it differently. One of the things he's said is he's consulted with D.A.s around the state before making the decision to charge Kobe Bryant with this crime. That doesn't happen in the normal case.

KING: Nancy.

GRACE: You know what, Chris, if he had rushed into the charging decision, you'd be screaming rush to judgment, which was stole from Johnny Cochran.

PIXLEY: And I'm not commenting on how quickly he made the decision.

GRACE: Yes, I know, you're saying he's wrong because he consulted the with other D.A.s before he made the decision. No matter what, defense bars across this country are going to scream to high heaven. But long story short, the caller makes a good point. However I perceive it this way, when the district attorney decides to go forward with a high profile client, you don't want to mess it up ala O.J. I think he's crossing his Ts, dotting his is but good.

KING: Santa Monica, California, Hello.

CALLER: First of all, Charles, if you moved to California and ran for governor, I guarantee you would win. My question is for Nancy Grace.

Miss Grace, you persecuted Scott Peterson for not speaking out, not doing interviews, not taking lie detector test.

Why does this alleged victim of Kobe Bryant before the gag order not speaking out, why does she take a lie detector test?

Her actions make me feel like she's possibly lying.

GRACE: She did speak out when she went to the hospital the next morning and went to the police. She underwent a pelvic exam and a rape kit, which is very, very intrusive to a woman's privacy. So, in that sense she spoke out much more than any other victim may. Also, let me point out that you've got your wires crossed. Scott Peterson is the defendant. This woman is the victim. It hurts a state's case when a victim or other state's witnesses speak out, because prior to trial, then they can be cross examined on that. I never asked Scott Peterson to speak out further. I asked him to take a polygraph. He spoke out very loudly on Diane -- on ABC.

KING: It's possible also that they did lie detect her, right?

GRACE: They very well may have. That's a darn good point, Larry. They may well have polygraphed her.

BARKLEY: I got a good point for you, Nancy. You mean the last victim, don't you.

GRACE: What now?

BARKLEY: You mean the last victim, don't you?

GRACE: Yes, I do, alleged victim.

KING: Alleged victim. OK, we have got to be careful.

Kingston, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: I wanted to find out if there was anything to the story or whether it was just a rumor that Kobe Bryant's body guards were on different floors, that they weren't on the same floor as he was.

And if so, would that be normal or do body guards not remain close?

KING: That is all rumor?

What do we know?

Do we know anything?

Chris, do we know?

PIXLEY: That is the rumor. I think it's been reported by the Orange County Press. And I believe actually Tony Kovaleski has reported on this show, that it's believed his body guards were in fact on a different floor. We do know that Kobe had his own room at the end of the hall, and there was no one in the adjacent.

KING: Charles, did you have body guards?

BARKLEY: I did not. I have a body guard now. But I only take him out like if I'm going to a really crowded place. But, we didn't have body guards back in my day. But first of all, no athlete really needs body guards all the time. But if you're going to go to -- when I go to a golf tournament where it's going to be 10,000 people, they're going to be in the sun all day, or nightclubs, I always take my guy, James.

GRACE: Larry, one quick response on the viewer's question regarding the body guards. I've spoken to a reporter that went up and down the halls of this luxury resort. And the rooms are very, very far apart. So if there were a confrontation even if the body guards were next door, next door is all the way down the hall. I don't know if they would have heard anything.

KING: We'll take break and be back with more of our panel don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Minneapolis, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: This question is for Mr. Barkley.

Mr. Barkley, it's well known namely by people with money that luxury hotels, resorts and clubs, exclusively all over the world and even in the U.S. have been known to have personnel that are -- quote -- unquote -- "safe call girls" for politicians, athletes, et cetera. If there's concrete evidence that this young lady is or has in the past paid or been paid for sexual services by Kobe or others, would this be damming information for the prosecutor?

BARKLEY: Oh, it would probably cure their case if they can prove that. But you know, the number one thing at any hotel in the country, women who work in a hotel, whether it's in a restaurant, bar, front desk -- they're not allowed to go to your room.

KING: Right.

BARKLEY: And it's really -- like I say, nobody knows what happened. But we do know one thing. She was the first one who broke a rule. And like I say, I don't know who's guilty or who's innocent. So right now, I just want to hear some evidence. I haven't vent heard a stitch of evidence from anybody.

GRACE: I have a stitch..

KING: Nancy?

GRACE: ...of evidence on that -- this allegation that's been thrown out about this girl possibly being a hooker. Let me just not put any perfume on the pig here. The girl is 19-years-old. She just got out of high school. She was a cheerleader. I don't think that hooking on the side was part of her activities, OK? So I can just dispell that right now.

LUDWIG: But even if it was, that wouldn't mean that...

KING: Yes. Would it count?

LUDWIG: ...that she's not -- you know, that she's not a sexual assault victim.

GRACE: That's true.

LUDWIG: Because it's not about sex. It's not about being seductive. It's about somebody, when you say no, they take matters into their own hands.

BARKLEY: Now in fairness, let me just say this one thing. I don't know anything about the young lady. But just saying she's a good student and she's a cheerleader, doesn't mean she's not a hooker.

GRACE: She's 19. She lives with her parents. Let's just get real for a minute. I've prosecuted cases, rape cases where the victim was, in fact, a hooker. So in my opinion, what the victim does for a living doesn't make a difference in my eyes. It will make a difference in the jury's eyes, I agree with Charles. If that were true, it could ruin the state's case. However, you know, we've got to look at this the way it really is. Take your victim the way they find him. This is not an international hooker. She's a 19-year-old girl fresh out of high school, OK? She lives with her parents.

KING: Victorville, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I have a question. My concern is considering the lack of individuals there in Eagle County that are actually minorities, would you consider a change of venue to perhaps Denver? Wouldn't you recommend that would be the best way to go in this case? KING: Chris, will the defense ask that?

PIXLEY: The defense is going to ask for a change of venue in this case, absolutely.

KING: Think they'll get it?

PIXLEY: You know, they face the same problem that Scott Peterson's defense team faces in that case, and maybe even more of an uphill battle. And I'll tell you why.

First of all, you've got a case that's been so widely publicized that there's probably no corner of Colorado where you can find a more impartial jury or at least people that haven't been inundated with the press. And press coverage is really the bellwether for a change of venue motion. Undue press conference. Well, here it's been across the state.

The other problem is that there's nothing particular about this community right now that tells them that they're unable to act as fair and impartial jurors. I think that's one of the reasons why we're hearing just now that the defense may be polling people in Eagle County to get their opinion on the case in order to establish that it may not be a fair venue.

KING: Dr. Ludwig, we have less than a minute. The psychological effect on Kobe is?

LUDWIG: I'm sure he's very scared. And if we just look at him as a person, if he did have an affair, his wife just became pregnant, maybe there were personal issues that he was going through that would have prompted him to have an affair. So as Chris was saying, it is very possible that this was a single incident prompted by something that was going on in his personal life.

KING: Yes. Charles Barkley, it's always good to see you. Let us know if you run for governor.

BARKLEY: I'll promise you that.

KING: Nancy Grace, as always thank you very much. This was a lively hour.

Chris Pixley in Atlanta, it's always good having you with us.

And Dr. Robi Ludwig, you add much to our conversations.

We thank all of our guests for being with us. We'll come back in a coupe minutes and tell you about tomorrow night.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: And we hope you enjoyed tonight's program. Should be a lot of fun tomorrow night too. Carol Burnett is our special guest for the full hour tomorrow night. Carol Burnett on LARRY KING LIVE.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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