Look, I do not like the question either. But it has to be asked.
And I am not defending Bobby Brown. He was a disturbed and abominable wife-beating cokehead that wore the conductor's hat for Whitney's train ride to junkie hell. But was her destination inevitable? Was Bobby interchangeable?
Here is what we know.
In the late '80s Whitney had been linked to NFL quarterback, Randall Cunningham, Hollywood megastar, Eddie Murphy, and even her best girlfriend Robyn Crawford.
When Whitney met Bobby in 1989, the term power couple did not exist. If it did, a portmanteau would have been coined the moment they laid eyes on each other: Bitney? Bobnee? Brouston? Ominously, none of it works.
Whitney already had seven consecutive No. 1s, including One Moment in Time, Didn't We Almost Have It All and Where Do Broken Hearts Go. Her trophy case was filling up with Grammys and AMAs, she had sung for Mandela in front of 70,000 people and Forbes listed her as a money printing machine. She was 26 years old and the writing was on the wall. This rocket was heading into the stratosphere.
Twenty-year-old Bobby was also on a run. His second solo album had just gone platinum eight times over. And hit single My Prerogative was on everyone's radio. Little did Whitney or anyone else know that Bobby's rocket came out of a box of fireworks. It was already fizzling out.
So why Bobby? He had been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder (manic depression). Add a tablespoon of cocaine to that cocktail and the next stop is crazy as a sh*thouse rat. Even compared to Eddie Murphy, a tweaked out Bobby Brown must have been an out-of-body experience.
Whitney's lack of confidence must have been a magnet to Bobby's swagger. Kevin Costner alludes to Whitney's low self-esteem during his eulogy (which, btw, was weirdly out of place before becoming charming, warm and touching).
There are other factors that fed into Whitney's insecurity. The black community was whispering, "too white". And rumours about her sexuality were not going away.
With all of those pressures, Whitney Houston would have welcomed some fun in Bobby Brown's psychedelic bouncy castle. And with posthumous reports that she was dabbling in drugs before they even met, it kind of makes sense.
What happens next is Whitney goes nuclear. She runs the table on the music industry and Hollywood for five straight years. Her debut movie, The Bodyguard, does $410 million worldwide. She sings The Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XXV that, 20 years later, is still the standard for all others to be judged by. And the awards cabinets take up a wing of her mansion.
She also becomes a full blown addict. The only difference between Whitney and a corner store crackhead is $100 million and worldwide white glove treatment as an A-list celebrity.
The most important date to remember during this period is 4 March 1993. That was the day Whitney gave birth to her only child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown.
During the entire lifetime of Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston was a drug addict. This alone speaks to the power of Whitney's demons. The majority of those years were spent with Bobby in a household gone bonkers. Spousal abuse, infidelity, drunk driving, separation, divorce, missed child support payments, child custody lawsuits, you name it. After the divorce in 2007, Whitney is linked to Snoop Dogg's cousin, Ray J, who is a singer, songwriter, record producer and actor. He is also 17 years younger than Whitney. She is now a 45-year-old woman in a young girl's game. Had yet another monkey jumped onto her back?
Whether with Bobby or Ray J, any glimmer of Whitney becoming sober was soon snuffed out by her next relapse. And Bobbi Kristina witnessed it all. The implications are a nightmare. In two weeks Bobbi Kristina will be 19 years old. There are reports that the Houston family is imploring Bobbi Kristina to enter a drug rehab facility.
I do not pray, but if I did, the words Bobbi Kristina would be in my supplications.
Whitney Houston's legacy is more bitter than sweet. She is the most awarded female recording artist of all time with two Emmys, six Grammys, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 AMAs. She sold over 200 million albums and singles worldwide. She was also an unstoppable crackhead for 20 years.
There were interventions that led to good weeks and months, but Whitney always chose crack-cocaine over friends, family and Bobbi Kristina.
In the end the hundred million was blown; her voice gone and body destroyed. It pains me to think about the depths Whitney may have sunk to score her next fix when the money ran out.
Bobby Brown. He is back touring with his old crew. The middle-aged men from New Edition have an upcoming casino gig in Thackerville, Oklahoma. And a bunch more like it. I guess when the Houston gravy train dried up, Bobby needed rent money. He walked out of Whitney's funeral last weekend. I hope he is smart enough to know he cannot walk out of what happened to Whitney. Bobby will be to Whitney what OJ is to Nicole. He has started his life sentence of public derision and private guilt.
The question, however, was whether the character played by Bobby Brown could have been filled by any body that fitted the bill in the tragedy that was Whitney Houston's life.
I am just asking.
Follow Tom Kambouris on Twitter: www.twitter.com/doingemersons