For most of the last decade, I was what Laker fans would call a “hater”.
I wasn’t a fan of Kobe Bryant and I rooted against him. I had reasons to. I hated that he made the all star team in 98 over more deserving players because of the stupid fan voting system. I hated that during the All Star game he hogged the ball and tried to take it to Jordan (Jordan whupped his ass that night at Madison Square Garden, NYC, THE MECCA OF BASKETBALL). I hated that he was a selfish player who chased stats.
I rooted against him every Spring. And although most of the time I actually liked the side I was cheering for (for example, I really am a fan of Paul Pierce, so it was fun seeing the Truth outplayKobe in 2008 finals), there were occasions when I was cheering for a side simply for the fact that they were going against Kobe. Now I think back–I was rooting for cats like Jalen Rose (hilarious and awesome commentator, but still) and Rip fucking Hamilton.
I was hating for the sake of hating.
I have a friend named Eddie Mendoza. Typical diehard Laker fan–in his 20s… Mexican. Naturally, we’ve gotten into many instant messengers arguments over the years about Kobe. He accuses me of being a hater, I tell him I’m not by stating this and that. These online arguments gets heated at times. Once I destroyed him so bad (I posted our conversation on my blog and asked for readers opinion, the majority of people sided with me) in a Duncan vs Kobe debate that he didn’t speak to me for a year. I can’t blame him; if someone whupped my ass that bad and posted it on the net, I’d be mad at him too.
But yesterday, out of the blue, Eddie Mendoza messaged me. First time we spoke for maybe two years.
We have a fake exchange. “How’s it going in HK?” “Oh it’s going okay, how’s your job?” It’s fake because neither of us gives a fuck about how we’re doing. We wanted to talk about one person and one person only.
So we talk Kobe.
“Man, them Lakers haven’t looked too good lately eh?” I said.
“Yeah, it’s sad to say but all good things come to an end, Kobe is declining so bad,” Eddie replied.
“Well, it’s amazing he’s lasted this long. He’s had an amazing career and he’s a top ten player all time.”
You know how in chats, at the bottom of the box it tells you when the other end is typing?
Well, I watched “Eddie Mendoza is typing…” on the bottom of the box for a full minute. Eddie isn’t a particularly slow typer–he’s at a lost for words.
When his reply finally came through, we both knew it was the end of an era. The days of us arguing and getting mad at each other over one Kobe Bean Bryant–the single most polarized player in all of sports–is over.
Maybe it’s cause I’m aging. Maybe it’s cause Kobe’s greatness is undeniable now. But I…am no longer a Kobe hater.
And just like that, Eddie Mendoza and I have nothing to talk about anymore. He signed off after that.
We don’t exactly run in the same circles so I don’t know if I’ll ever see or talk to him again. But I will always remember our basketball arguments fondly. And no, not just because I always whupped his ass in basketball debates, but more because in the end, I always knew that we were just two passionate basketball fans.
And like Eddie said, all good things come to and end.