- Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com columnist
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Hello, my name is Hate. I've been around for a long time. Thanks for creating me.
I'm here today to talk about Kobe Bryant. Yeah, you know, that dude. The one who keeps me alive, simply because of the way so many of you feel about him. You see, there's hate, and then there's the way millions feel about him. There's animosity, jealousy, anger and then there's the way so many of you feel about him. And now that the conversation has come to the forefront -- about his place in history if he wins Championship No. 4 -- I have returned with a vengeance.
Yeah me, Hate -- I'm back. And it seems, thanks to you, I'm stronger than ever.
The funny thing about me is, my existence has nothing to do with basketball when it comes to Kobe Bryant. When people say they are rooting for the Magic strictly based on their hate for Kobe, or they just don't want the Lakers to win because of their hate for Kobe, 99.9 percent of the time basketball is not the reason.
It's his attitude -- he's arrogant and smug. He's selfish. He's phony. He thinks he's better than everyone.
The Colorado incident comes up -- it sits in the back of people's minds like a trump card in Bid Whist. The breakup of the Lakers dynasty? Blamed on him. Sides are still being chosen. Shaq comes up. Love him, hate the other. People have even said they like LeBron's Nike puppet more than Kobe's.
Now that's hate. That's me on a whole 'nother level.
Lemme breathe. Ahhhhhh. Feels good.
Kobe can't even have his wife and kids meet him when he comes off the court after home games without me dominating people's feelings. Why does he get to have his kids come give him a hug after the game, and none of the other players' families are allowed? Without even knowing the reason -- because it's him, and not, say, Derek Fisher -- I am allowed to reign over even his family portrait. And if he loses a game in this series, I'll be the "I told you so."
Now, some people have given the people who hold me against Kobe a name. They call them "Haters." Population in the millions. Outside of L.A., we stretch all across the globe. Now the Haters, they reach for reasons that do sometimes have something to do with basketball. He shoots too much. He's not a team player. He doesn't make anyone around him better. The 81 points didn't impress them -- that cemented their belief he's a ball hog. The MVP award last year went to the wrong player. The 40-point performance in Game 1 of this series? Whatever. And Lamar Odom was the reason the Lakers won Game 2. The hatred continues.
The Haters are blinded by one thing when it comes to Kobe: He's not Michael Jordan and he never will be. And they'll stand on that until the day they die.
So here I am, back in the Finals again, making my presence felt. Doing everything I can to find fault with Kobe Bryant, and fuel the fire against him getting another ring.
The problem with me is that, the more I'm thrown in his face -- the more you all allow me to play a role, the more you hold me against him -- the stronger I make him. I'm counterproductive when it comes to Kobe.
See, Kobe loves me. He loves the fact that I, Hate, play such a large role in his life. He didn't always feel this way -- he used to have a hard time understanding why I was always around. He didn't get it. What have I done to make people hate me so much? That's what he used to say to me in private moments. All he ever wanted to do is be considered the best player to ever ball. He thought, if he pushed himself hard enough, the world would appreciate him.
But it didn't. And now he doesn't give a damn. What you think about him is no longer one of his concerns. He's driven almost to the point of obsession with getting this fourth ring, not in spite of me, but because of me. He wants you to keep hating him. He calls me Nietzsche.
So please, people -- if you don't want Kobe to win this series, if you don't want to see him get his first Finals MVP, if you don't want to see his place in NBA history vault to an argument-free Top 10 All-Time status, then stop. Stop tossing me at Kobe Bryant. Because at this point, you all have made me the best thing that's ever happened to him.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.
Ever notice that the more people hate on Kobe Bryant, the better he plays?