I used to hate Kobe Bryant. I really hated him. A lot. I remember one time being asked to leave a late night establishment (some might say I got kicked out of a bar) for voicing my opinion about how much I hated Kobe. Loudly. There was so much to hate. He was petulant, self-entitled and egotistical; I would even go so far as to say he was whiny. Plus, he played for the Los Angles Lakers. The fucking Lakers, who are like the New York Yankees of basketball. Everyone should hate the Lakers. When I meet someone who isn’t from L.A (is anyone actually from L.A?) and likes the Lakers, I immediately assume them to be a front-runner. I did however like his baby fro.
The thing that really irked me was how everyone compared him to Michael Jordan. As a Chicago Bulls fan and devout member of the church of Jordan, that was sacrilegious. Turns out, I may have been a little wrong. As much as it kills me to say this now, Kobe is the closest we may ever see to Jordan again. He is not Jordan. I repeat Kobe is NOT Jordan, but he is pretty damn close. Their similar style of play is only part of it: the fade away, the head fake, the up and under move around the basket, etc. It’s more that they would kill not only the other team but also their own teammates to win a game. During each offseason, they both worked their asses off to add new facets to their game. Hell, they’re on a first name basis with fans. Basketball fans know who you’re talking about when you say Michael, and they know who you’re talking about when you say Kobe.
The biggest difference was that it was always fun to have Jordan around. Kobe was never fun to have around. He was annoying. It didn’t seem that anyone liked him or he liked anyone, regardless if you were on his team or not. Chris Childs punched him in the face during a game. Chris freaking Childs. He was a scrub and he punched Kobe in the face. That’s right. The. Face. Shaq once referred to him as Sonny Corleone (That wasn’t a compliment by the way). Kobe didn’t care, he just kept gunning for scoring titles and rings, and never really seemed to care what anyone thought about him.
Now, I don’t want to say it has to do with his impending divorce (I hope that is just a coincidence) but Kobe Bryant is a hell of a lot more fun to have around this season. He is surly and brutally honest with the media, frequently uses cruse words, calls out players and management, and totally doesn’t give a shit. I love it. I never thought the words “love” and “Kobe Bryant” would ever come out of my mouth in the same sentence. I won’t go as far to say that I love Kobe Bryant, but I love him this year. This past weekend at the NBA All-Star game when Dwayne Wade broke his nose with a hard foul, did Kobe seem to care? No, he just wiped the blood off his face and went back to business. And at the end of the game when LeBron James passed up a last second shot that could have won the game with Kobe guarding him, that pissed Kobe off. You could see him busting LeBron’s chops all the way down the court. I wish I could read lips, because I’m sure Kobe wasn’t pulling punches. And he shouldn’t. Kobe lives for moments like those and he wanted to pile another one onto his already impressive resume. LeBron passed and that pissed “surly Kobe” off.
I hope more people piss Kobe off this season. It’s fun when Kobe is popping off at the mouth. I’ve never said that about Kobe before and I think I want to keep him in my life like this. Just as long as he stays at five rings.
–This was special contributor Victor Marinier’s third article with us. He wouldn’t take very kindly to Chris Childs punching him in the face.