InsideSoCal- Bryant became the villain again during the Lakers’ 121-103 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday at Moda Center. The examples went beyond the hometown crowd booing him every time he touched the ball. With the Lakers offering little to stop Portland’s Damian Lillard (36 points) and CJ McCollum (28 points), Bryant provided pointed comments to his teammates about their play in the locker room afterwards, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
Bryant took particular aim at Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell and second-year forward Julius Randle and even called them out by name, sources said.
“You know I don’t do the gossip [expletive],” Bryant said in a friendly exchange when asked about the incident.
Ahhh, shades of a better day. A day when Kobe Bryant was the most hated man on the floor. A day when Kobe had such a strong desire to win that he would constantly tell his teammates to go fuck themselves whenever they so much as called for a pass while he went 5-on-1 against the opposition. Those days? Those were the days. These days? Not so much. Now it's a puke worthy display of affection, admiration, and appreciation where ever Kobe takes the floor. I respect the hell out of the Portland fans for booing him mercilessly, because it brought out Kobe the competitor. The Black Mamba. The asshole. The guy you hate to play with, but love to win with. Not the guy that's waving to away crowds and accepting gifts prior to the game. Not the guy that's laughing in post game interviews while playing for a downright dreadful team. Not the guy that casually jogs backdown to the defensive end of the floor with a open mouth grin on his face after missing a three pointer by 13 feet. Nobody likes that guy -or I guess more appropriately- everyone likes that guy, and it makes me sick. I want to see the guy that would clench his teeth in your face as he backpedaled back down the floor after making an impossible, contested turnaround jumper. He was worth the price of admission.
Sure, it's completely hypocritical for Kobe Bryant to get mad at his teammates for treating a game like it doesn't matter when he threw in the towel on the season by announcing his impending retirement in November. No, it's not right for him to call out the effort of young players when he has been shamelessly shooting under 25% from beyond the arc. However, Kobe's game has never been predicted on what's right, it's been predicated on winning, and if for only one night he actually acted like he cared about it again. That's enough for me to overlook the feelings of D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.