You would not want to be Kobe Bryant now, sleeping each night on a bed of Swiss army knives, your career, your future, your life wobbling on a serrated edge.
It's all or nothing, innocent or guilty of rape, joyous freedom or a kind of hell he can't even imagine. The two scenarios:
If Kobe Bryant is found innocent...He will first collapse, tearfully, into the arms of his wife, Vanessa, who never turned on him, not through the ugliest moments of the trial, and it will have gotten very ugly.
Then he will burst, jubilantly, out the courtroom doors—probably in Grand Junction, Colo., where many experts think the trial will be moved—to the cheers of a bizarre crowd of maybe 1,000, most of them Lakers fans. They will be off the hook that their star is off the hook. This will probably happen in early May 2004, with the playoffs just kicking in.
"His endorsement career is dead either way," says a Lakers executive, "but at that point, he won't give a damn."
But if Kobe Bryant is found guilty...He will be instantly taken by two deputy sheriffs to a life of degradation, humiliation and loneliness. " Colorado sex-offense statutes are probably the harshest in the country," says Denver trial attorney Bob McAllister. "There's no worse place to commit a sex crime."
If he isn't eligible for bond, Bryant will spend around 60 days simmering in a county cell. Either way, while he is awaiting sentencing, he will likely be given a penile plethysmograph test, in which an electric measuring band connected to a computer will be placed around his penis. He will then be shown pornographic, deviant and sex-abuse images, and the device will record his level of arousal. The results of the test will be used to determine the course of his rehabilitation treatment.
"It's all very Clockwork Orangish," says Dan Recht, former head of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.
At sentencing, the judge will have three options: probation, the community correction system, or state prison.
If Bryant gets into the community system, which is primarily for nonviolent offenders, he will probably be sent to one of Denver's community correction houses. It won't exactly be the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera. He'll most likely share a matchbox room with another sex offender. The bathroom will be down the hall.