I hated Kobe Bryant, but not as much as I respected Kobe Bryant
If you would have told me I would ever write a Kobe Bryant tribute, I would have thought you were legally insane. I hated Kobe Bryant ever since his Lakers beat my sixers in the 2001 NBA finals. Even More, my favorite player of all time is Tracy Mcgrady so being a Kobe hater was second nature.
Ironically Kobe was my first favorite player before I really got into basketball. When I was a casual basketball fan, Kobe was my “favorite” player simply because I liked his shoes more than anyone else. However, during the 00-01 NBA basketball season, I went through a 5-inch growth spurt that inspired me to actually get into the game. Coincidentally that same year was the most successful season for the 76ers of my lifetime and also the year T-mac emerged as an all-star.
Due to these reasons by the time I started playing in high school, I was officially a Kobe hater. Everything negative said about Kobe Bryant I believed it, he was a ball hog, he was cocky, he was a jerk. Anything that made Kobe out to be a bad person, I was all for it, especially the famous “he copied his whole game for MJ” excuse. Yet for as much as I hated Kobe, I always admired that he outworked his peers.
As a T-Mac fan, arguing who was the best 2 guard in the league of that time was an everyday occurrence.
Everything Mcgrady did was effortless and smooth, it was if he was created to play the game of basketball. Kobe on the other hand, while blessed in his own right with natural talents, always seemed to have to work more and was blessed with a better team and coach.
However, as time went on it became clear that it wasn’t luck that made Kobe more successful it was his sheer will. Once Shaq was shipped off to Miami, no longer could us Kobe haters use the Big Diesel as an excuse for Kobe’s success. In fact, we all relished in Kobe’s failures as the Lakers struggled to reach the playoffs let alone win a series for years. Kobe’s individual numbers were amazing during this time, but the lack of team success solidified all the negative comments about Kobe as a person.
Then as if Kobe could feel his basketball legacy being tainted, he completely adjusted his game and led a group of misfits to back to back titles. The Lakers are probably one of the most storied organizations in all of the sports with a rich championship history. Still, their championships in 2009 and 2010 stand out as shining moments for not only the Lakers but especially Kobe.
Shaq had gone on to win another title in Miami, something I am sure Kobe was well aware of. So to not only tie things up with Shaq on a personal level but to surpass him and still represent the gold and purple had to be vindication for Bryant. Still, Kobe’s popularity among the masses suffered as he never was seen as a likable guy to the public. Through sexual assault charges from 2004 and people just didn’t bang with Kobe like that.
Thus the Black Mamba was created. Amid all of the Backlash from his sexual assault case, and the standing of his public perception Kobe adopted an Alter Ego. Inspired by Quentin Terrationos, “Kill Bill” the black mamba was who Kobe become on court