Philadelphia's Hatred of Kobe Bryant Is Puzzling

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers is defended by Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half at Staples Center on February 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the 76ers 99-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

As a Philadelphia native and a graduate of Lower Merion High School, it has always puzzled me why so many people take exception with Kobe Bryant.

I understand that Kobe has never exactly gone public with his love for Philadelphia, but there is no way that he is the number two villain in Philadelphia sports history, as noted by CSN Philly.

Yes, he said he would "cut your hearts out" in response to a question about the Philadelphia fans and their hopes in the 2001NBA finals, but it never made sense to me that he should be made out to be such an enigma.

Coming from a city that has produced players like Wilt Chamberlain and Earl Monroe, Bryant sits in the Pantheon of Philadelphia basketball.

It's true that the Sixers passed up on Bryant with the first pick in the 1996 draft, opting to go with Allen Iverson, but ultimately he had no control over his destiny.

Since his earliest playing days for the Lakers, Bryant has been booed in the City of Brotherly Love. When Kobe dropped 31 points in the 2002 NBA All-Star game, he was booed mercilessly. Truly, I have never understood why.

Kobe's play is as Philadelphia as it comes.

He never backs down, he's always looking to make a profound impact, and most of all, he loves to win. While he makes flashy plays in Tinseltown, the polar opposite of Philadelphia's blue collar city, Bryant plays with the gritty passion that shows he's a true product of Philadelphia. He even went out of his way to say so in an E:60 interview which not many people seemed to take notice of. 

When all is said and done, Kobe Bryant is going to go down as one of the 10 best players in NBA history. His play, dating back to his days at Lower Merion, thrilled many in the Philadelphia area, and his play should still draw praise today.

There have been grievances and people love to hold grudges, but it's been over 10 years. It's time the people of Philadelphia begin to forgive and forget. We have had an up close and personal look at one of the most polarizing athletes of all time, and we should be happy about it.