My relationship with Kobe can be defined by a movie scene. Towards the end of Anchorman, Ron Burgundy falls into a bear pit at the zoo and his arch nemesis Wes Mantooth holds the ladder that would eventually save him. As Mantooth literally holds Burgundy's life in his hands, he tells him,"I pure straight hate you, but goddamnit I respect you,” before offering a lending hand.
I've hated Kobe Bean Bryant for the better part of his career and it was some of the most fun I've had watching sports. He was so smug when he declared for the NBA Draft, sunglasses on his head, smile on his face, fresh off taking Brandy to the prom. I wasn't hating, just felt like he was flying too close to the sun. And I was right.
I laughed maniacally when he shot those two airballs against the Jazz in the '97 playoffs.
I laughed maniacally when he shot those two airballs against the Jazz in the '97 playoffs. When he ran Shaq out of town, I relished in his inability to take the Lakers deep into the playoffs with no help.
The Chris Paul deal and the Steve Nash/Dwight Howard Era were my doing. I reached in my bag of tricks and did some Caribbean brujeria to thwart it all. Fun fucking times, let me tell you.
You see, for me, sports are more fun when a villain is involved. Being a Knicks fan helped me direct my hate somewhere else because watching them was draining every fiber of my being, especially during the Kobe era. Michael Jordan killed my team every year, but I viewed him differently than I did Kobe in his prime. MJ transcended the game with his dominance and sneakers. I ate that shit up like most kids my age. I only hated his guts when he played my Knicks because I knew they couldn't beat the Bulls. My relationship with Jordan is complicated. My relationship with Kobe, on the other hand, is very simple. I hate Kobe like I hate Duke, the Boston Red Sox, and the Dallas Cowboys. We will be foes until the end.
Kobe is Desiigner to Jordan's Future. He's a straight clone of His Airness. The low-post fadeaway, the single fist pump after a game-winner, it makes me sick! When I see him pull that shit, I scream, "He swear he Mike!," at the TV. Do I think Kobe is Top 10? Sure, you can make a good case for it and I would be lying to you if LeBron's fuck shit during the summer of 2010 didn't make me appreciate Kobe a little more.
The hate remained, though. Through it all. Well, maybe not through it all. I had some sympathy for him when he caught that case in Colorado. But then I went back to the hate when he got that ugly-ass tattoo. Fuck outta here, Kobe.
The Lakers 2016 season couldn't be going any better for a hater like me. He deserves everything, all of it, the whole kit and caboodle. Bryant could've rode off into the sunset after playing six games in the 2014 season, but no, he decided to sign a two-year extension and rob the purple and gold of a proper rebuild.
Now he has to deal with D'Angelo Russell becoming the new host of Cheaters and squirm his way through the most abysmal Laker season in their storied history. The last time the Lakers won 20 or fewer games was in 1958 when they finished with 19. They were still in Minneapolis then. Oh, the horror.
The hate I have for him comes from a place of respect. I know he's the Mamba, I've folded up in fetal positions when the ball was in his hands in the waning seconds of a game. I watched him win rings. I've followed him his entire career. Kobe beat me more than I beat him, and still, I rise. I rise for those that feel he'll never be Mike. I rise for those that root against him. I rise for Kobe haters everywhere. Don't let his final games make you forget how much you despised him all these years. We're all in this together.