Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a Kobe Bryant fan?
No matter how many times you acknowledge that Bryant is a great player, if you dare suggest that he has significant flaws, that he is not the best player in the league, or that maybe... just maybe... his success has been bolstered by great teammates and (but for a year or two after his arrest) a friendly press...
YOU'RE A HATER!!!!!!!
Why are Kobe fans so black and white on the subject?
In fact...why do they even care what fans of other teams think or say?
You would think they would be happy with their good fortune. After all, if you've been a Laker fan during Kobe's tenure, you've had the privilege of watching your team win five titles.
But, instead of being happy and secure, Kobe fans are (with the possible exception of Tiger Woods apologists) the most defensive and belligerent sports fans around.
What could be the cause of this behavior?
Here are some possibilities:
1. A large percentage of Kobe fans are too young to have seen other greats such as Michael, Magic, and Bird play (apart from highlights). In their eyes, there has "never been a player like Kobe," because their point of reference is the last 10 years. That's understandable but, just as I won't assert that Hakeem Olajuwon (who I did see play) is better than Wilt Chamberlain (who I never saw play), perhaps these fans should be more aware of the limits to their viewpoints.
2. Fans, as a general rule, want to believe that they are witnessing something unprecedented and "for the ages." That desire can cause fans wear rose colored glasses for their favorites 24/7. The truth, however, is that others have had skills that were similar an, in some cases,
3. Perhaps some Kobe fans, deep down, recognize his flaws. They know that he sometimes shoots too much, has a lower FG percentage than other great SGs, and can be aloof and offputting to some. Recognizing these flaws, however, does not equate to accepting that non-Laker fans can cite to them. Maybe its kind of like the way you can make fun of your family member, but you won't let others do the same. Maybe it's just immaturity.
4. Blatant homerism. No more, no less.
Whatever it is, let me speak for many non-Kobe fans when I say, I don't hate Kobe Bryant. I respect his game, and recognize that he is among the greats. That said, I don't care for his personality, and I do think that, as great as he is, he gets more hype than is deserved.
In the eyes of most Kobe fans, that makes me a "hater."
So be it.