While Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly beloved and revered amongst Los Angeles Lakers fans as arguably the greatest player to ever wear the jersey, that same admiration is not always shared across the NBA.
Many fans despise Kobe for a number of different reasons spanning his entire career and it has made him one of the most polarizing players in the league.
Kobe understands that he is both loved and hated across NBA circles and offered his explanation as to why that is on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, as transcribed by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
“I played with a chip on my shoulder. I didn’t care who was out there in front of me. My job was to try to make your night absolutely miserable, that was my mindset, honestly. I came out there to destroy you. When players used to line up with me it was something like they knew it was going to be a very, very long night emotionally, physically and I think fans can sense that, competitors can sense that and that’s not a very likable characteristic to have, but I found comfort in that, and I think that’s why. It’s not so much the fact that people didn’t like it, it was the fact that I liked the fact that they didn’t like it.”
Kobe has often said that he enjoys being the villain. He loves being booed in opposing arenas and that was likely one of the reasons he didn’t want a farewell tour.
Despite being polarizing, fans across the NBA have been extremely gracious and respectful towards Kobe this season as everyone recognizes it will be his final season and whether fans like or hate him, he is still respected.