NEWPORT COAST — The recent split between Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his wife of 10 years, Vanessa Bryant, had some local fans wondering whether the shooting guard would consider a move to another team or suffer performance issues on the court.
The divorce was topic du jour for Paul Kincaid and Andy Loy, U.S. Beverage Manufacturing co-workers who were eating lunch at the Newport Coast Shopping Center on Tuesday.
“It’s just a matter of time after that mess in Colorado,” Kincaid said, referring to the 2003 incident where Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel worker. He later publicly admitted to infidelity.
“He should have had better advisors,” Loy said.
Kincaid said Bryant may mull over a move to another team now that he isn’t anchored to the area.
“I think that would open him up to it for sure,” he said, adding, "[but] he’s not going anywhere.”
Jorden Eckenweiler, 15, of Newport Coast said he went to school with one of Bryant’s children and never saw anything amiss between the couple.
“It seemed like they were pretty content, I guess,” Jorden said.
The divorce probably wouldn’t affect Bryant’s game, he speculated, calling Bryant one of the top three Lakers greats.
"[He is] really professional about how he handles his game,” he said.
At the nearby Crystal Cove Promenade, Hossam Ghali of Laguna Niguel said he’s sure Bryant’s performance wouldn’t take a hit — although, as a Celtics fan, he hoped it would.
“I hate Kobe because he’s so perfect and so good,” Ghali said. “He likes to be challenged, he’s up to the challenge, and he has so much self-control.”
Hassan Rassmy, also at the Promenade on Tuesday afternoon, saw the divorce as one of many for celebrity athletes.
The divorce is “just a trend of people with that type of lifestyle,” he said. “His wife is gorgeous, so I don’t understand.”
Rassmy said the marriage was a casualty of the current zeitgeist of always wanting to improve and never being satisfied.
Susie DiGiovanna, who works at the OASIS Senior Center, was leaving one of Bryant’s favorite CdM eateries, La Fogata Rotisserie Chicken, on Tuesday afternoon.
“I just think it’s really sad — for the children and for the fans,” she said.
Bryant has two daughters, ages 5 and 8, with Vanessa Bryant.
Lakers and Bryant fan Hallie Mitchell, who lives in Newport Beach and works at Fashion Island, feels confident the team’s star player will stay with the purple and gold, despite a possible move from his Newport Coast home. Mitchell was eating lunch outdoors near Wonderland Bakery, another spot Bryant frequents.
“He’s Kobe Bryant and everyone knows who he is and respects his skills, so I don’t think that will affect him as a player,” Mitchell said. “The Lakers have done well enough to be a great team, and Kobe wants to be part of a great team.”