Man, I hated you.
I hated that stupid, unstoppable turnaround jumper. I hated those drives to the rim that always seemed to end in some spectacular finish, and often with free throws attached to boot. I hated that deep defensive stance that regularly resulted in steals.
I loved beating you in 2008. I loved that you shot just over 40% from the floor for the series. I loved that our guy Paul Pierce won the NBA Finals MVP. I loved that Banner 17 came at the expense of your Lakers.
I hated losing to you in 2010. I hated that you went 6-of-24, but still scored a game-high 23 points in Game 7. I hated that you grabbed 15 rebounds and willed your team to that title.
I loved that it fell apart as the Lakers tried to build super teams around you. I loved that as the Celtics rebuilt rapidly, your Lakers failed over and over again.
I hated that when Boston was down, fans once chanted “MVP” for you in TD Garden.
I hated that you tore your Achilles’ and were robbed of the chance to get back to the biggest stage in basketball one more time. I hated that the Celtics weren’t there waiting for you. I hated that Boston never got to break that 1-1 tie against your Lakers.
I loved that you rehabbed and came back. I loved that you went out a warrior. I loved that you went out your way and scored 60 in your final game.
I hated, and loved that, as a Celtics fan, I shouted “Kobe!” anytime I shot something in the trash can. I hated, and loved, that you shared this photo:
I loved that you got what “Celtics vs. Lakers” means, even when both franchises weren’t always at their best.
I hated that you gave the “Mamba Mentality” to Jayson Tatum in the summer of 2018. Well, maybe. The jury is still out on that one.
I hated how much I respected your game and will to win. I hated that I really didn’t hate you much at all because of it.
I loved that after your playing career, you became relatable as a sports dad. I loved that we both have daughters who love sports. I loved that we had that connection to them through sports.
I hate that Celtics fans will never get to root against you again. I hate that you and your daughter were taken from us far too soon. I hate that my eyes fill with tears about that part that most. I hate how my heart breaks for your family.
I hate that you’re gone.
Rest in peace, Kobe.
With love and respect,
A Celtics fan