Late last month, ESPN.com published an excellent oral history on Kobe Bryant’s epic 81-point game against the Raptors back in 2006. The oral history featured more than 50 players, coaches, and executives talking about their memories of the game. But former Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell, now the head coach for the Timberwolves, refused to take part in it. Even ten years removed from the game, he doesn’t like talking about what happened to his team during it.
Last night, Kobe did it to Mitchell again. He didn’t drop 81, but he did score a season-high 38 points, including seven three-pointers, during the Lakers’ 119-115 win against the Timberwolves. And after the game was over, Mitchell admitted that, unlike most other people, he won’t be sad to see Kobe retire at the end of the season. He called Kobe “one of the top five, six, or seven players ever” before revealing that, despite that, he hates him with a passion.
“I hate him,” he said. “If I don’t ever see him again, it will be too soon. I hate him.”
Mitchell’s words made their way back to Kobe a short time later, and Kobe told reporters that he appreciates the hate:
“Thank you for the hate,” he said. “I love that. Appreciate that.”
Now, Mitchell doesn’t hate hate Kobe. The two were actually spotted talking after their media obligations were fulfilled last night:
But when Kobe retires this spring, it’s safe to say that no one will be happier about it than Sam Mitchell. Especially after the performance Kobe had last night.
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