Kobe Bryant won another title the other day. It was his fourth - same as Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal. That has to drive the haters mad.
The Bryant bashers are legion and have been since he roamed the halls at Lower Merion. I went to a rival high school, and I remember my fellow students screaming ridiculous things at him while he punished our basketball team. They called him dumb and chanted "SAT" even though he speaks Italian and reportedly did quite well on his college entrance exams. They said he was a "ball hog" and a "loser," then watched him crush the competition and lead Lower Merion to a state title.
None of it made any sense. It didn't then, and it doesn't now. They seemed to hate him simply because they weren't him. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion.
When he skipped college for the NBA, the anti-Kobe contingent grew. It got bigger still when he won his first title as a 21-year-old. By the time Kobe returned to Philly to help the Lakers beat Allen Iverson and the Sixers in the 2001 NBA Finals, Bryant was taking shots from all sides.
People chastised him for saying he was "coming to Philly to cut their hearts out." The natives bristled and said a local guy would never dare utter something like that about his hometown. Then, some of those very same critics turned around and said Kobe was a product of the suburbs and not a real Philadelphian at all.
Rambling out of both corners of their mouths is what Kobe haters do best. That and drooling.
The knock recently was that Kobe was nothing without Shaq - that Bryant couldn't lead, and other players wouldn't follow. Then Kobe guided the U.S. team to Olympic gold and the Lakers to an NBA title, and he added regular-season and championship MVPs for good measure.
Now some of the detractors are belatedly (and begrudgingly?) showing Kobe some respect. Shaq, who famously tore Bryant apart on an Internet rap video that went viral, used the Internet to make amends by turning his original, body-related joke on himself (everything sic'd):
"Congratulations kobe, u deserve it," Shaq wrote on Twitter. "You played great. Enjoy it my man enjoy it. And I know what yur sayin rt now 'Shaq how my [butt] taste' "
Kobe can't win without Shaq? So much for that.
"I don't have to hear that criticism - that idiotic criticism - anymore," Kobe said with a wide smile after dispatching the Magic. "That's the biggest thing. I don't have to hear that stuff."
No he doesn't. He'll probably have to hear some different, equally absurd stuff instead.
The Kobe haters are in hiding now. But eventually they'll crawl out from under their sofas and start all over again. They'll twist their logic until it resembles a blackboard drawing of how to run the weave. And in the end, they'll come up with a reason, no matter how specious, to dislike Kobe and deny his greatness. They always do.
Some people just love to hate - which is ironic and pitiful, but also true.
Anyone catch the Miguel Cotto fight on HBO over the weekend? Before Cotto beat Joshua Clottey to retain his WBO welterweight title, HBO announcer Jim Lampley told a little story.
"An extraordinary moment in our meeting with Miguel Cotto yesterday: In response to a question . . . he began talking about his love and devotion for his father. As he did so, his father - from 30 feet across the room - stepped through a crowd of men, boxing men, and he moved to the sofa where he sat and embraced his son. And together the two of them sat in front of a dozen or more men, hugging each other, weeping openly, in a graphic demonstration of true, honest, man love."
I thought it was touching. Lampley thought it was unusual, or at least "extraordinary." I'd defend intrafamily "man love" as a perfectly natural, regular occurrence, but it's hard to see my computer screen through the tears.
Not sure how I missed this, but last week an anonymous e-mailer sent word to several New York media outlets claiming he was part of the construction crew that built Citi Field. The e-mailer said he buried three Phillies jerseys in various locations in the Mets' new stadium. The Newark Star-Ledger ran the anonymous e-mail on its Mets blog, along with a poll asking readers if the Mets should investigate (54.3 percent want the Amazin's to dig up those jerseys - if they exist). Can you believe that? A newspaper using its blog to run an anonymous e-mail. I sure hope the Daily News Journalism Police (Blog Division) are on the case. Capt. Paul Domowitch and Lt. David Murphy will be apoplectic about this - right after they dust off the precinct dictionary and look up what apoplectic means.
"Remembering Harry Kalas" is on sale now at Wawa. The book was coauthored by Mike Radano, a former Phillies beat writer for the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill. . . . If you haven't seen PhillyGameDay.com, give it a look. It's sort of like the Onion for Philly sports. . . . The Phillies are 13-16 at home this season. Five of those wins came against the hapless Nationals. The next six games are against the Blue Jays (losers of four straight) and the Orioles (proud squatters in the AL East basement). If there was ever a time for the Fightin's to reclaim Citizens Bank Park and their home-field advantage, this is it.