Bostonians are people who could be characterized as hard-working, thick skinned, blue collar and most of all knowledgeable loyal sports fans. So as the Celtics faithful prepare for hated rival Kobe Bryant's last game at the TD Garden, many are wondering how to greet the future Hall-of-Famer.
It's a simple answer really, boo the hell out of him. Why? Because that's what Kobe wants.
That mindset is the reason why Kobe is the last of a dying breed in today's NBA. Like former pal Paul Pierce, Bryant doesn't want to be your friend on the court, hell he doesn't even want to be your friend off the court and the thing is Boston fans love that.
Kobe, like Pierce and KG are the last strong link to the Michael Jordan NBA. For me as a teenager in the 90's these types of players were idolized. Kobe is an icon in his own sense, even if he chose to go down the same road as Derek Jeter did, announcing his retirement early in the season.
I am not a huge fan of farewell tours, I think they are all for show and to pad the athletes ego, but one thing you do get out of it is the ability to hear the player reflect on each and every city they are in, and Kobe clearly has plenty to say about Boston:
Via ESPN's Baxter Holmes:
I remember when we were losing [in Game 6 in 2008], they played that Journey song ["Don't Stop Believin'"] and the whole arena started singing that song, and I hated that damn song for two years. Seriously,But I listened to that song every single day because it just reminded me of that feeling. Same thing with the Dropkick Murphys [song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston"]. I'm listening to Dropkick Murphys all the time just because I want to remember that feeling. And so to go back in 2010 and have that redemption [meant a lot]
That right there is a honesty from a player who gets the rivalry between these two teams. Players like Kobe are rare and won't be walking through that door anytime soon in my lifetime, at least not until my daughter is old enough to have the same feeling I did when someone like Kobe, Jordan or Allen Iverson came to town.
Reflecting on his games in Boston, one sticks out in my head. Back in the '06-'07 season the Celtics were tanking for the top pick in the draft, with Pierce sidelined for most of the year, the team was horrendous. I like to call it the Gerald Green Era. So when Kobe came to town at the end of January the unthinkable happened, most of those in attendance (not me) chanted "MVP" for the visitor wearing the purple and gold:
I remember being at the game thinking that this was the lowest point as a die-hard C's fan. But just hours before the Lakers take the floor tonight in chilly Boston, I finally get why that happened eight years ago. It shows the respect the people in this city have for hardworking guys who have a "take no prisoners" mentality. It also cemented the fact that Kobe was a star, wherever he was. On that night in January of 2007, Kobe dropped 43 on the hopeless Celtics, but gave the fans what they paid for.
So tonight if you forked over the big bucks to see one of the worst teams in the NBA make sure to boo Kobe as loud as possible. Then cheer him and give him a standing ovation when he leaves the court in the 4th down 15 after scoring 11 points on 3-of-20 shooting. You may have a lot of hate in your heart for a guy who stole a championship from your team, but don't tell me you don't respect the man as a NBA legend.
Photo Credit: The Associated Press
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Rob Welch 12/30/2015 11:24:00 AM Tweet Edit