Confessions of a (former) Kobe Bryant hater
Paul Lintag on Dec 19, 2017 07:38 AM
It's easy to understand why people couldn't care less about Kobe Bryant. I know that because I did for a while.
I have a confession to make: I never really liked Kobe Bryant.
At least during the time when my basketball mind was still being developed, I hated Kobe.
Being born around the time when he first made it to the NBA, I was still too young to care about his first three championships in Los Angeles.
All I could remember about him was that he didn't do a lot of winning and he drove Shaquille O'Neal away from the Lakers.
And as an elementary school student, I happened to like Shaq.
I have another confession to make: Kobe Bryant was never really my favorite player.
At least during the time when my fandom was still being developed, I was so into Steve Nash with Dallas and then Phoenix, as well as Rip Hamilton with the Pistons.
You know what both of those players and their teams did? Oh yes, beat Kobe and the Lakers in the NBA postseason.
There was a time I used to be irritated at a close friend because he liked Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers and he wouldn't stop talking about it. He was literally drawing Laker logos on his notebook and drawing "24" to make it look like "LA."
It got so bad I moved away from him while we studied at the library. Yes, I used to go to libraries. I don't anymore and that's my third confession.
However, over time I just gravitated towards Kobe and the Lakers. I can't pinpoint the specifics though but thinking about it hard nowadays I feel like I was always meant to cheer for him and his team as crazy and cheesy as that sounds.
My earliest basketball memory was watching a replay of a game between the Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers. This was around 2002 I and ya boy was seven years old.
That's when I wound up liking Shaq, I mean it's hard to miss that big guy. But there was another guy there.
I didn't know his name then, I simply had no clue. To put in perspective how clueless I was, I thought the "PHI" on the scoreboard stood for "Philippines."
Anyway, the other guy was Kobe. Yeah, I didn't like him back then.
Looking back, that's a memory that's still fresh in my head not only because I did end up liking Kobe eventually but for other reasons as well.
But since we're strictly only talking about the Black Mamba, I'd like to think that that was the start of a rather long and complicated process of me being a Kobe stan, as crazy and cheesy as that sounds.
I can never pinpoint the exact time when I really went all-in on my support for Kobe --- and by extension, for the Lakers --- but I do remember almost all the things I did to express such admiration.
Whether it was mastering fadeaways while playing barefoot on concrete courts or staring at my 20-peso Kobe poster on the eve of Game 7 of the Finals against the Celtics, I've been Kobe Bryant all day, everyday for over a decade now.
I know that's not much compared to other Kobe fans but oh well, call me a late bloomer because I am.
I remember not believing a friend when she told me Kobe suffered a torn Achilles tendon. I thought she was messing around. But once I was able to confirm it I have to say I panicked a little bit. I wasn't sure how to react about the possibility of Kobe's career ending right then and there.
I remember being hyped for his return thinking he was going to drop 81 on the Raptors again. He didn't and the sorry Lakers lost. Kobe fractured his knee like six games later. The next season he had a torn rotator cuff on his shooting arm.
I remember waking up on a day off to news that Kobe finally announced his retirement. It wasn't a great day off from work. I have to admit I was a little lost for a couple of days.
I remember almost crying when Kobe played his last game. Emphasis on the word "almost." No tears were shed at the Ateneo football field that's for sure.
And I remember the first time I saw him for work. I didn't really meet him, I just saw him from like 24 feet away. It was cool. I'm not the type to be star strucked by anyone but I have to admit, I was shook when I saw the Mamba live.
I'll remember his jersey retirement with the Lakers too, mainly because this might be his second-to-last basketball memory. The last one being him inducted to the Hall of Fame obviously. Duh.
I can never remember the exact time when I became a dedicated disciple of the Church of Kobe but I always remember why I became one in the first place.
To me, Kobe is a living example of hard work making the dream work. While it was always hard to admit, I've come to terms with the fact I may not be the most talented one out there.
So was Kobe, but the guy made it work. What's the reason for me, or anyone out there, not to do the same? After I immersed myself in all things Kobe, his journey from a benchwarmer to a beloved legend is one that I appreciate the most.
Because it takes extreme will power to do that and will power goes beyond basketball.
In the end, it's easy to understand why people worship Kobe that much. I know because I do.
It's also easy to understand why people couldn't care less. I know that too because I did.
Finally, I have one final confession to make: in terms of just being a basketball player, I think Kobe is the one, true #GOAT.
Come @ me.
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