During his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant truly embodied the franchise’s rivalry with the Boston Celtics, developing an intriguing love-hate relationship with the city and its sports.
Bryant disliked the Celtics as much as he admired them, and the feeling was mutual. It showed in the legendary Laker’s last game at TD Garden with the crowd cheering to bid farewell to their great rival after mercilessly booing him for two decades.
The respect for Bryant stretched beyond Boston’s basketball court. In a recent episode of the “Games with Names” podcast, former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman recalled the Lakers icon’s inspiring visit during the 2018 offseason, describing how his intelligence and competitiveness wowed the Patriots stars:
“We’d always have legendary people or head coaches or business leaders. They’d come in and speak to the whole team in like the offseason. Speaking of this, Kobe came and spoke to us. He was one of the most interesting humans I’ve ever heard in that climate. He was so interesting, and like his attention to detail and his question asking, like he’d ask us questions so then he could take it to where he was going next. He wasn’t playing anymore, but you could just tell that guy was a fierce f—ing winner. Just eye of the tiger. He’ll f—ing rip your heart out and would do it over and over and over and over again just to show you you’re not better than him. And you felt that when he spoke. One of the coolest people that came and talked to us before a season.”
Bryant went through one of the biggest heartbreaks of his career in Boston, losing the 2008 NBA Finals to the Celtics that would set him off on a revenge mission — and which eventually yielded back-to-back championships for the Lakers.
But even during his playing days, Bryant enjoyed trips to Beantown — often stopping by his favorite Italian restaurants in the North End district for some pasta and a glass of red wine.
And the Purple and Gold legend’s Mamba Mentality lives on in Boston, for instance, thanks to Celtics forward Jayson Tatum — who often pays tribute to his idol even though the young NBA star bleeds green.
Austin Reaves would have ‘done anything’ to meet Bryant
Bryant keeps inspiring new generations of NBA players, let alone rising Lakers stars. Austin Reaves recently said he would have ‘done anything’ to meet the legendary guard.
“Just the mentality that he had was something that I really loved,” Reaves said. “It was do whatever you could do to win.”
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