March 12, 2008
Hardwood Paroxysm started an initiative to mark March 11,2008 as Kobe Bryant Blog Day and I'm participating! (Yey!)
As a Laker fan based in Manila (that would be in the Philippines), I would say Kobe Bryant is one of the most popular and admired NBA players. He recently visited the Philippines last year and he was received very well, like his prior visits. If you take a random person from the street and ask him or her to name a popular active NBA player, I'd estimate 75% would first say Kobe Bryant.
But having said that, I think Kobe is the NBA player fans hate the most.
He has been tagged as a selfish player who does not make his team better, who broke up the Lakers dynasty by pushing the Los Angeles Lakers to trade Shaq in 2004, the player who "raped" his way out of a sexual assault case, an enigma who can be considered as a basketball hermit.
But we all know the real reason why fans hate him: He's the best NBA player right now.
He scored 81 points, won 3 NBA championships, won scoring titles, made fools out of the other NBA "stars," and perhaps is starting to "make his team better."
I had the same sentiments about Michael Jordan. I did not deny his greatness, his MVP's and highlight moves. MJ deprived others stars of championships, glory and legacy. Michael Jordan, during his playing days, was great, but I hated him.
Now, people hate Kobe Bryant.