Few athlete fan groups are as dedicated to the defense of their hero as Kobe Bean Bryant fans.
With LeBron James headed to Los Angeles, this his has been on display recently in the defacing of a LeBron James mural multiple times in Los Angeles.
Though an obvious play on James nickname “The King” or “King James” (obligatory mention that this is a self-given nickname because that’s the pit of the lameness lagoon), many of Kobe’s Kidz did not take kindly to the sentiment that another basketball player be referenced as the dictator of their town.
So last Friday, the New York Times shined a light on a few of these fascinating Kidz of Kobe’s. Granted, this is a piece on the Lakers by a New York publication, and the quotes picked for the article were certainly cherry-picked, but they are quite perfect.
Highlighted below are the passages containing the quotes from Kidz in the article. Lets grade them on a scale from 1 (Actually somewhat reasonable!) to 10 (Kobe for President and Pharaoh of the World!)
He gave his heart for the love of the game,” said Nathan Andrews, 31, who works for the water department in Needles, Calif.
Andrews was wearing a gold No. 24 jersey and sounded downright wistful as he reminisced about Bryant’s former greatness. But what about the future? Andrews had to be excited, right? The Lakers are back, baby!
“I’m not a fan of LeBron,” he said.
This first one is tough. Using the “love of the game” argument as a point for Kobe and against LeBron is all well and good, except for the fact that LeBron tries so hard through his social media accounts to show everyone how much he lives and breathes the game it’s almost impossible to miss.
Try hard? Absolutely. Does he actually try hard? As hard as anyone ever has. Not to mention LeBron will have played more games and minutes than Bryant by a significant margin, and has already surpassed him in both of those (and all statistical categories) in the playoffs.
Still, this score is lowered a bit towards reasonableness with the last part of his quote. Anyone who actually roots for LeBron when he’s not on their team frankly has a little more reasonable sports fandom takes that I simply am not ready to allow. And “I’m not a fan of LeBron”…that’s something I can get behind.
“I don’t even know where to start,” said Stephanie Serrano, a 35-year-old fan from San Clemente, Calif. “He’s such a diva sometimes.”
No argument here. LeBron James social media posts are a window into the soul of an insecure 7th grader. Half the time he wants you to see just how HARD he’s working in the weight room again (strive for greatness folks), and the other half he’s sub-tweeting a teammate for taking some of his gum without asking (#cheatersneverprosper).
But again, these are all counterpoints made to say Kobe rules, LeBron drools. Was Kobe a diva? He broke up the three-peating Lakers in the mid-2000’s because he wanted more spotlight. He gave himself a nickname, just like LeBron (The Black Mamba, which kinda sucks to be honest). His goal was to make sure at all times you knew he was the greatest player Kobe had ever seen.
Yes, Kobe was a diva.
“Don’t get me wrong: He’s good,” she said as she pondered the seasons ahead. “Maybe I’ll feel differently once he wins a championship for the Lakers.”
Now this is a reasonable take. I hate the guy, but if he wins me a championship then I’ll let bygones be bygones. Reasonable sports fandom summed up perfectly. Very little heat on this take.
“He was 100 percent pure Lakers,” said Matt Sheldon, a 37-year-old fan from Las Vegas. “The best basketball player I’ve ever seen.”
As for the team’s most recent big-name acquisition? Sheldon made clear that his feelings toward James were more nuanced. He drew a sharp distinction between the James who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat — “He was a whiny baby,” he said — and the James who recently signed with the Lakers.
“You put up points in a Lakers uniform, you’re good with me,” Sheldon said. “And he’s going to put up a lot of points in a Lakers uniform.”
He added, “It doesn’t mean I need to hang out with him.”
Here’s the best basketball player Matt has ever seen vs. the basketball player the Lakers are getting next year**:
Matt’s response may be “Yea, but Kobe did it when it mattered!”
Here are their post-season statistics side-by-side:
Matt’s last ditch effort at saving face may be “but at least you wanted Kobe to have the ball in the clutch. He was a killer! A killer I tell ya!”
LeBron James has five post-season buzzer beaters. Kobe had one. Sad face 🙁
We’ll give him a one point deduction on the heat meter since he was able to toss a little reasonableness in at the end. Two points to the New York Times for making sure to point out that Matt was a Kobe/Laker fan from Las Vegas.
“I also didn’t like that he didn’t want to shoot,” Gonzales said. “And now that he shoots, I still don’t like that he doesn’t have a post game.”
This is what we like to call “respecting Skip Bayless takes too much” Check the stats above for who the better shooter is. Look at both the FG% and the 3P% for both regular season and post-season.
Watch LeBron in one single game operate out of the post area, towering over his defender, watching the game develop a step ahead of everyone else and making the perfect play every single time.
Then try and honestly say you’d prefer the Kobe Bryant 20 foot fadeaways instead.
And my favorite:
Two fans who were decidedly not hyped by the signing were Janessa Yumul, 28, and Jessica Dawana, 29, longtime friends from Southern California who color coordinated their Bryant jerseys for summer league: Yumul in yellow, Dawana in white.
“Lake show for life!” said Dawana, who works in human resources technology.
Yumul and Dawana said they had revered Bryant since the start of his career, citing his toughness and competitive fire. They do not love James. Not yet, anyway.
“I never liked him,” said Yumul, an ultrasound technician who now lives in Las Vegas. “I always thought he seemed really cocky.”
“And dramatic,” Dawana said.
To illustrate what she described as the difference between the two players, Dawana recalled how Bryant once sank two free throws after tearing his Achilles’ tendon.
“Who does that?” she said. “Whereas with LeBron it’s like, ‘Ehhhhh!’ ”
We don’t even have to grade this soft-ball of a quote thrown out there by our buddies at this New York publication. Combine this lack of awareness (they would NEVER have liked Kobe if he wasn’t such a humble, unassuming, likeable fellow) with Matt’s complete blindspot for how good Kobe was, and you basically have the caricature of every Lakers fan ever.
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