Initial Findings

by Kat Largent

Our initial findings showed a mishandling of the crisis toward the beginning of Kobe Bryant’s campaign. Both Bryant and the Lakers stayed silent about Bryant’s incident, not mentioning it on social media or releasing a statement of apology. This strategy was not at all effective, angering fans who wanted answers.

Lakers FB feed 2
The Lakers did not address Bryant’s behavior on social media in the days immediately following the incident.

Eventually, Bryant addressed the incident on a radio show and in an interview. Using these two outlets, Bryant used many variations of the different image repair tactics.


Image repair tactics used by Bryant:

-Differentiation/defeasibility/provocation: “My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period,” he said. “The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”

-Minimization: “Officials understand that, understand that you have emotional outbursts during the course of the game. That doesn’t actually mean what you say.”

-Mortification/Differentiation: “The comment that I made, even though it wasn’t meant in the way it was perceived to be, is nonetheless wrong, so it’s important to own that.”

-Corrective Action/Bolstering: “It’s important for me to talk about that issue because it’s OK to be who you are, and I don’t want this issue to be a part of something or to magnify something that shouldn’t be.”

Image repair table comparing Bryant’s usage of different tactics.

This case is interesting because not only Bryant must enter into image repair strategy, but the Lakers as a brand as well. Bryant serves as a representative for them, so not only did he need to attempt to repair his image using the media, but the Lakers as a whole team did as well. In an awkward attempt at rectification, the Lakers as a team released a PSA about openness and acceptance.



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