The obstacles facing Kobe Bryant no longer consist of healing from a torn left Achilles’ tendon.
Lately, it involves something far more suffocating than navigating a double team.
Bryant’s mother, Pamela, and father, Joe, filed statements in federal court in Camden, NJ. on Monday suggesting the Lakers’ star has lied during his recent efforts to stop Pamela from giving a New Jersey-based auction house more than 100 of his basketball memorabilia from both his high school and early portion of his Lakers career.
In a declaration filed in federal court in Camden Monday, Pamela insisted sworn statements from Kobe and his wife, Vanessa, “contained many false statements.” That included Kobe’s account of a May 2 phone conversation, in which she allegedly agreed he had never told her she could have his belongings.
Pamela Bryant claimed sworn statements by her son and daughter-in-law contained “many false statements.” She rejected Kobe Bryant’s account of a May 2 phone conversation, in which she allegedly agreed that he had never told her she could have his belongings.
“This conversation never occurred and I never made that statement,” Pamela Bryant said. She also added Kobe “never demanded the return of any of the items, nor were they in any way improperly taken from him without his permission.”
Both Bryant’s father, Joe, and his grandmother, Mildred Cox, supported Pamela’s claim that Kobe never declined a chance to take the collectibles from the parents’ home in suburban Philadelphia. They said Kobe and Vanessa reiterated such sentiments during a visit in 2005 when the Lakers were in town to play the Philadelphia 76ers. Each said Pamela took Kobe and Vanessa upstairs to see the sports memorabilia only to say they had no interest in the items.
“My son gave my wife these items over the years, stating, “Here Mom, these are for you,” said Joe. He then added on that he told Kobe “on several occasions that it would be nice for him to take some of the memorabilia he had given to his mother and set up a room in his California house to display the items.” But Joe said Kobe “declined to do so.”
Kobe and Vanessa see things differently.
Bryant said in court papers that that he never gave Pamela permission to sell the items. Those included two championships he gave his parents after the Lakers won the 2000 NBA title, a signed Lakers basketball, his 1996 Pennsylvania high school championship ring and sweat suits he wore at Lower Merion High, a suburban school nearby Philadelphia. The auction list also included Bryant’s high school jerseys and a 1999 Teen Choice Awards that Bryant openly questioned how his mom acquired.
“It was last seen by me in my personal residence,” Bryant wrote in court documents. “I do not know how my mother or Goldin obtained possession of this award but it was without my permission.”
In court papers filed last Wednesday, Vanessa wrote she and Kobe asked for the mementos several years ago while visiting the elder Bryants’ home in Philadelphia. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vanessa wrote Pamela Bryant agreed to return Kobe’s property but “stated that she had placed it all in storage because she had converted Kobe’s old bedroom into a toy room for our nieces.”
Goldin Auctions had continued to showcase “The Bryant Collection” on its website and plans to sell it off in June. But a federal judge in California ruled last week that the auction house couldn’t sell, destroy or dispose Bryant’s memorabilia while courts determine the case.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org