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Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Appreciation and an Apology

Posted by Tariq al Haydar

I love you, Jellybean.

That's the message I'd like to convey to Kobe Bean Bryant. He may not like the fact that I just called him a confectionary, but he gets the picture. And I'm not kidding either: I love the dude. I love him because he made me laugh when I saw his Stephen A. Smith interview. And for apologizing to his wife with a FOUR-MILLION-DOLLAR ring. I also kinda love him for not letting Lamar Odom beat himself up TOO much. In fact, I think I need to go back to that Screamin' A. interview for a sec: For those of you that missed it, Kobe was very candid and unguarded. He revealed that he had managed to "impose his DNA" on the Lakers. Smith, understandably, didn't understand, but I think I get it: Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's all about love, right Kobe?

Think about it: this is a sublimely gifted athlete who entered the league around the time of his PROM, for God's sake. He KNEW that this, what we're seeing in front of us, the unfurling of the career of an all-time great, was SUPPOSED to happen. It just was. And people hated that. But that's our problem, not Kobe's.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, let me share my Top 10 all-time list:

1- Michael Jordan
2- Wilt Chamberlain
3- Oscar Robertson
4- Magic Johnson
5- Larry Bird
6- Bill Russell
7- Jerry West
8- Kareem Abdul Jabbar
9- Shaq
10- Dr. J

Now, understand this: the only players on that list I've actually FOLLOWED are MJ and Shaq, but I obsessed over that list. I was fixated, and then I expanded to the next ten: Elgin Baylor, Earl Monroe, Walt Frazier, Karl Malone, George Gervin, Barkley, Duncan,...etc. And I obsessed even more: At this point in his career, is Kobe better than Elgin Baylor? Is Kobe, right now, #17? #12? #19? What? God, give me a sign!

And then I realized I was asking the wrong questions, because really, I wasn't assembling these lists for MY benefit, I was doing all this so that people would think I was smart, that I knew a lot about hoops. Because really, how in the hell am I supposed to compare Kobe to Elgin Baylor or Walt Frazier? I've never even SEEN those dudes play. How often have you?

A good friend of mine taught me a valuable lesson. It was a basketball lesson, but I think it also applies to life, and she did it by asking me a simple question: Who are your Fave Five?

That's a much easier list to compile: Iverson, Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Josh Smith and KG. With Amare and Gooden's Beard (just the Beard) coming off the bench. Simple, right? And this list? This was for ME. These were the players that brought ME pleasure. Fuck historical context.

Ah, historical context: that's the root of the hate you must endure. You realize that, right, Kobe? You are TOO SIMILAR to that guy. You're like Shyne in relation to Biggie, except if Shyne were actually as good as GZA or Jay-Z. That's why they hate you, Kobe, why they can't even let you kiss your kids without accusing you of faking it: because you're too UNCANNY.

And I think that's what you figured out: that the only way to combat that hate was through LOVE. I imagine you telling your boys:

"Listen, whatever happens, happens for a reason. It's SUPPOSED to happen. So no matter who screws up, the love will always be here. Don't even sweat it."

And that's why I think that after Game 6, you told the press "I'm proud." Because you KNEW that the Celtics deserved to beat you and your boys, but that didn't diminish the love. It was just SUPPOSED to happen this way. And speaking of how things are SUPPOSED to happen, it makes you smile when people say that Jordan "wouldn't have allowed" this or "WILLED his team" to that, right? It makes you smile because you know it isn't true. Because you know he was JUST like you: just some guy who was exceptionally "good at basketball," as it were. All he could do was play, and then events transpired according to dozens of other variables.

In fact, people talk about teammates, rule changes, officiating... they talk about every single variable imaginable, down to the new Gatorade flavors that weren't available when Money was playing. But they forget the most important one: Love. Because let's face it: MJ was the most loved athlete in professional sports, and you? You're the most hated. So, in a way... all your failures? Our bad. And I'm sorry, Kobe Bean Bryant, because maybe if I really loved you, you'd have a fistful of rings by now.

So please accept my apology, and I promise not to hate you from now on. I've become a Laker fan for life, and your love is one of the reasons for that. So shyne on, my brother. You corny little bitch!

For all of you who read my insane Ray-Allen-hate diatribes, allow me to apologize to the great Jesus Shuttlesworth. Congratulations on your ring, and I hope your kid is doing well. You'll ALWAYS be a Hall-of-Famer in my book. I didn't even hate you, you were just a vehicle for my unadulterated hate. And I needed to get the hate out so I could find the love. So congratulations, Mr. Future Hall-of-Famer. Enjoy your much-deserved ring.


TADOne said...

Great piece Tariq. Love the pic too. Corny is a good word to describe that outfit.

Tariq al Hayder said...


You have to realize that I myself am a corny bitch.

TADOne said...

Me too. Quiet as kept.....

Hursty said...

wtf is up with Kobes eye in the photo? Nice peace Tariq.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Thanks hursty, TAD.

AR said...

I salute you,old bean.

Hursty said...

Beans are good to eat AR

Hursty said...

Notice that I wrote 'peace' rather than 'piece', in reference to Tariq's Allen spray. I thought that was pretty clever and y'all didn't say nothing. haters..... :)

Eboy said...

I wish I could comment but I've been programmed to sidestep critcicism of players that don't deserve the overhyped recognition they gather. Kind of like a mossy rock, expect stupider.

Eboy said...


DP said...

I LOVE IT RIQ! once again great piece man.

Tariq al Hayder said...


Here's a question you need to ask yourself:

How would it make you feel if Kobe (suspend you disbelief a sec) eventually eclipsed MJ as the GOAT. Would that make you angry?

Now ask yourself another question:
Why is that?

Tariq al Hayder said...


Around the time of the Laker three-peat, I was trying to convince people that Kobe couldn't eclipse IVERSON, let alone Jordan.


Who really gives a shit who eclipses whom? These are b-ball players, not celestial bodies.

Eboy said...

Stop writing about singular dudes then!!! :) Dum dum.

Eboy said...

Oh, and speculation is a bitch!

TADOne said...

Eboy doesn't need a vehicle for his hate. His hate is all-encompassing.

Big Man said...

Iverson is my favorite too. A favorite players list is always a better bet.

The Promise said...

Nice piece man. Put me on your list of "players" u have there on your page. U see me onn Slam all the time man. Add me now!! Peaceee...

The Promise said...

yo. nice peice man. add me on ur page. im a regular slam writer. im out. peacceeee...

Anonymous said...

I don't know... sounds a lot like a cop-out to me. You were going on and on about an exclusive story on the evil that is Ray Allen -- even to the point of dismissing his child's sickness. So you're saying all that was to prove a point about Kobe?

Kobe hate is not irrational. It's irrational to deny his greatness. It isn't to simply not like the guy for a multitude of reasons.


Anonymous said...

I guess it gave this a site a little more traffic, so that's good.

Tariq al Hayder said...


You're right, it is a cop-out in a way. It was wrong of me to say all those things about Ray Allen. I honestly didn't know about his kid. At that point Doc just mentioned a "personal problem".

Maybe I chose Ray Allen to hate for two reasons: because I'm totally indifferent to him (I don't love him like AI or KG, and I don't "hate" him like Duncan). But also because he hadn't done much up until the Finals. I wanted to write a hate piece on him to show how stupid hate can get, but I went TOTALLY overboard, and that's why I apologized and called him "the Great Jesus Shuttlesworth". He did play very well in the Finals, and I really do sympathize with his kid.

But let me ask you this: What "big story" is there on Kobe? I mean that proves he's more of a lowlife than Jordan or Bron or Melo or Ray Allen? I have no problem with "tealish" hating him, because "hating" makes sports fun. But why does EVERYONE hate him SO MUCH? To the point where it's not even about basketball anymore? That IS irrational.

Tariq al Hayder said...

The Promise:

I don't know what you mean by "add", but I'd be happy to do that. But who are you again? Do you go by a different name on the SLAM site?

Anonymous said...

Tariq, I get you. But you've got to remember that along with the large number of Kobe haters, there is also a ridiculous amount of Kobe lovers (homo or not).

And I don't think the majority of non-Kobe fans take it that far. #24's faces bug me. The game he played post-Shaq (prior to this season) bugged me. Oh, and the fact that he changed his # to 24 annoys me too. If you want to eclipse Jordan, go right out and say it, I wouldn't mind. But nope, it's because Kob "wants to make use of all 24hours in a day".............

It's just little stuff that like about Kobe that never seems to end which makes me not like the guy. Feel me?

Tariq al Hayder said...

Yeah, I feel you.

The way Duncan stares at brefs in that bug-eyed way busg the beezusus out of me. The way he prettyb much does everything, even the little tattoo that peeks out of his shoulder, BUGS me. So I "hate" him. I ALWAYS root against the Spurs.

But really, I don't HATE him, I just "hate" him, because it's fun to have villians and heroes in sports. And if you want to cast Kobe as a villian, more power to you. I seriously have NO problem with that.

But I DO have a problem with professional sportswriters and media-types casting him as a villian and pretending like they're being objusctive. See, your Kobe hate and my Duncan hate is PURELY subjective and all in good fun (as long as you don't chant "rapist" os some shit at games). But these dumbass "reporters" just hate because they're dumb.

Case in point: Jemele Hill of writes an extensive column in late March.early April on how Kobe did NOT deserve the MVP, on how it was so unfortunate that he would win it because of the "Pacino" factor; meaning it was like when they gave Pacino for Scent of a Woman after snubbing him in Godfather 1 and 2, Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico...etc.

When I read that I just thought "sheesh", because I had NO PROBLEM with people picking CP3 as their MVP. It was a VERY close race.

But then, surpirise surprise, a week or two later the ESPN columnists cast their votes for MVP, and Jemele Hill VOTED FOR KOBE! She actually went from WRITING A COLUMN about how unfair it would be for Kobe to win to VOTING for him in a VERY short span.

How did that happen?

My explanation is this: Jemele Hill KNOWS that there are people who have been programmed to hate Kobe, so she wrote a column she didn't even believe in just to meet a deadline or gain extra readership or whatever.

In my opinion, that shit lacks integrity. Write what you believe. If you discover you're wrong LATER, that's OK, but don't write something you KNOW is wrong at the time for ulterior motives.
Feel me?

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