Gonzo: Kobe has gone totally Hollywood
By John Gonzalez
If the series goes back to L.A. (and I doubt it will), don't expect Kobe Bryant to rock any Phils gear at Dodger Stadium. The Lower Merion lad - who once dunked all over the Delaware Valley - is apparently finished with us.
It's probably for the best. I'm pretty much finished with him, too.
In sports, as in politics, perception matters. Late last week in California, the perception was that Bryant gave a very large, very public middle finger to Philadelphia. If you haven't heard or didn't see it, he was sitting with the mayor of Los Angeles, the owner of the Dodgers, and Tommy Lasorda for Game 2 of the NLCS. When the camera found him, Kobe made an "L.A." gesture with his hands.
It was like watching Zell Miller at the Republican National Convention or Arlen Specter cozy up to President Obama and the other Democrat fat cats - the defection was complete and the insult was obvious. Pictures say so much.
Ah, but that wasn't enough. Mamba wanted to make sure we got the message and sent word through Craig Sager. TBS's Technicolor Dreamcoat reporter asked the NBA's version of Kanye West - Bryant's ego has grown so impossibly large that he didn't hesitate to go out in public wearing a shirt with his own likeness on it - if it felt a little strange to root against his hometown. Even Sager knows how poorly that sort of thing plays, especially here in Philly.
"It's not weird." Bryant reportedly said. "I've lived in Los Angeles for 14 years now."
I lived in Boston and Dallas for eight years total, but I never had the urge to buy a Red Sox hat or spoon with former Big D mayor Ron Kirk. (He's not much of a cuddler, anyway.) Plenty of athletes leave home to play elsewhere, but few have so openly and unapologetically dug up their roots and scorched the earth they left behind. Can you imagine Dwyane Wade so blatantly snubbing Chi-town?
In an attempt to finally cut whatever frayed ties he still had with Philly, Sager said Kobe told him that he grew up rooting for the Mets and that he still has Ron Darling's baseball card. It's bad enough that he was a closet Mutts fan, but he held on to Ron Darling's card after all these years? Really? Until I heard that, I didn't think it was possible for Bryant to be any lamer than some of us already suspected. Next, we're going to find out his favorite player was Tim Teufel or that he slept on Wally Backman bed sheets.
Not long ago, after the Lakers won the NBA championship, I wrote a column saying Philly does not give Bryant enough respect as a player. The piece was purely about his on-court ability, and I stand by it. At the same time (as Uncle Cholly would say), I'm done thinking that the city has been too hard on him when he's not draining jumpers or rising up for highlight dunks.
All the heat he took back when he said he wanted to cut Philly's heart out seems justified now. All the verbal jabs we landed on his chin, all the booing he absorbed when he'd return to play against the Sixers, it all seems appropriate in retrospect.
Philly is different. It's not like growing up in Omaha or Jacksonville or Raleigh or some other low-rent burgh the natives can't wait to flee. It's a city the locals don't want to leave and can't wait to return to if they do. It's home. A lot of us are fiercely (even myopically) protective of it.
Even though there's a lot of infighting and dysfunction, Philly has a family feel to it. You're either one of us or you're not. It's in the blood - or at least it's supposed to be. Since Kobe is an L.A. guy now, I'll put it in terms Hollywood made famous so he'll understand: You never go against the family.
As far as sports and Bryant's link to Philly go, it's time for the Phanatic to kiss Kobe on the mouth and take him out fishing, Fredo style.
I dont see what the problem is. He live a lot overseas too but people aint sweating him for not reppin the overseas. This is what happens when people dont have much to talk about.
I think there's something here... I remember when Kobe said he wanted to cut Philly's heart out and I also remember how they boo'd him during an All-Star game. I think Kobe feels Philly didn't support/embrace him, so now he enjoys sticking it to them any way he can.
I doubt too many people would look at this as some flaw against Kobe. It even says in the article that he was never a phillies fan and grew rooting for the Mets. I do know he is still a die hard Eagles fan and that will probably never change. Besides, I like how this columnists makes the claim that Philladelphians should stick together, but when Kobe played in the all-star game in philly and said how it felt great to be back home and playing in front his friends and family, they booed the sh.it out of him and were saying how he would never be like Iverson. I don't see what the difference is.
As for the part about Kobe's ego, yeah there's no question his ego is out the roof. but he's always been that way. Remeber when he was 17 in a highschool gym wearing a suit and sunglasses talking about how he was gonna play in the nba, or when he took Brandy to his prom. That's hollywood right there.
they didnt support him..he tried to embrace them even in hs but they never respected him because he didnt play for a inner city team nor did he go to college in the city..people dont realize he lived more in europ and in l.a then he did in philly so why are people expecting him to embrace a place where he only lived for a lil while?..
ya being from philly i dont look at kobe as a philly guy. merion, pa is a good drive away from downtown and more of an upscale community. he has never come off as a typical guy from the city. look at rasheed wallace, he is what i picture when i think of philly, a rough guy who dont mind gettin in your face. not kobe.
They did the same thing with LeBron. Has Kobe ever come out and publically said he was a Phils fan? LeBron stated that the Yankees have long been his team and he's from Akron let alone plays in Cleveland. Just because your "from" somewhere doesn't mean your required to support those teams that are closest to your hometown. Kobe's exactly right, he's lived in LA for 14 years now and the community there has embraced him...let the man breathe.
ok so kobe went to high school outside of philly but grew up overseas he's not really from philly so i don't see how anybody would have a problem with that and philly fans booed him in the all-star game a while back... i'm pretty sure he remembers that
Just because you're from a place, doesn't mean you have to root for the teams there. I'm from the Detroit area and I wouldn't root for the Lions if my life was in the balance. If Kobe wants to root for the Dodgers, let him root for the Dodgers. It's not like Philly liked him anyway.
I got a lot of negatives for this article lol... Chill people. I wasn't saying I agreed with the columnist... I ran accross the article on ESPN Insider and thought I'd share it. I agree with the rest of y'all. I think that LA is Kobe's home now. They've embraced him. He's lived in LA for almost half his life.
I wouldn't be surprised if Kobe enjoyed sticking it to Philly though after they didn't embrace him and boo'd him during the All-Star game.