Black Mamba hung up his his kicks night before last. After having been recruited right out of high-school to the NBA, a bunch of rings, wins, points and sneers delivered over his career, he’s done.
In typical Kobe fashion, he took all the shots on the way to a sixty-point night. The crowd at the Staples Center went, as they say, wild. Kobe went out with a bang–everyone clearly feeding him the ball to rack up his final feat–especially after he smiled and mostly walked through this final season.
At least one reporter lamented against his unnatural friendliness during this season. “Go out as who you are!” he admonished. “Be your asshole self. ”
I will stipulate that Kobe may have reasons for playing like he has a chip on his shoulder. I’m clueless as to why. But there are many who will not miss his growls and slights.
That same evening, a few hundred miles up the coast in Oakland, another basketball moment was happening. The Warriors broke a 20 year old season win record led by their inimitable, huggable superstar, Steph Curry. The worst I’ve heard about Steph was when some sportswriters were peeved that his totally adorbs two-year-old daughter sat on his lap and pwned a post-game presser. Seriously. That’s it. In addition to being a future hall of famer, he’s a chill guy. “Huggable.”
I don’t pay much attention to basketball, but the contrast struck me. Clearly both players are superstars. One is team Nike and the other Under Armour. One is finishing and the other is early career. One is abhorred and one is adored.
Is it better to be feared or loved? Time will tell.