Kobe Bryant says 'core issues' important in US debate on racism

Mexico City: American basketball icon Kobe Bryant said during a forum in the Mexican capital that his countrymen should not lose focus on the "core issues" in the debate on racial injustice in the United States.

As a player, the five-time NBA champion joined other high-profile stars, including LeBron James, in expressing solidarity with victims of police violence against African Americans, including wearing an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt before a game in December 2014, reports Efe.

Those last words of Eric Garner, a black man who died in Staten Island after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold earlier that year, were captured on video.

Protests erupted in numerous cities after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer in question.

Police killings of other black men, including Freddy Gray in Baltimore; Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina; Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, also have sparked protests in numerous US cities in recent years.

"We can't get lost in the process... people are using to raise awareness... for example (San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin) Kaepernick not standing up for the flag," the 38-year-old Bryant said on Friday.

Kaepernick has recently refused to stand for the national anthem prior to the 49ers' pre-season games, saying there "are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder".

But Bryant said it was important not to be distracted by the specific methods of protest.

"Why are we having the protests? Why is the conversation turning to a dark place? If we can focus on the core issues, then we can get things resolved," the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar said at the "Mexico XXI Century" event organised by multi-billionaire business magnate Carlos Slim's Telmex Foundation.

In his first visit to Mexico, Bryant also spoke about leadership, his personality on and off the court, the importance of his family -- and his daughters, in particular -- and his passion for basketball.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist said he enjoyed both winning and learning from his team's defeats and recalled that he relished the challenge early in his career of facing Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.