I have always hated going to Suns/Lakers games here in Phoenix. Doesn't matter which team was relevant, or which team had more wins. Lakers fanboys and fangirls always overran the arena with their yellow jerseys and strutted and gyrated to every Kobe shot.
I suppose you could say that's sour grapes, but when the Suns were selling out arenas all over the country during the run-n-gun days of Nash and Amare and Shawn et al., I have complete confidence that the visiting Suns fans were not complete ass hats all game long.
Tonight, the Kobe-era Lakers and their fanboys and fangirls visit the Phoenix Suns for the very last time. Kobe's been going on a farewell tour for several months now, and tonight's game against the Suns is his last chance to stick it to Phoenix one more time.
Kobe Bryant says he will absolutely play tomorrow in Phoenix— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 23, 2016
You betcha that Kobe wants to play again in Phoenix. He might even make 1/3 of his fallaway jumpers. He might even score 20 points.
I know that Devin Booker will be hyped up for this game. Booker - half Kobe's age - joked the other night that he might have watched the-mid-2000s series "live", but that he's too young to remember it.
What I'd love to see is Raja Bell coming out of retirement for just one game. Tonight. Just a five minute stretch.
This will forever be my favorite version of Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/kLYV26WxBc— Scott Howard (@ScottHoward42) March 23, 2016
"I don't even know who that kid is," Bryant said after that game.
A few years later, Bryant reportedly recruited Bell to join the Lakers.
I expect a lot of former Suns will be at the Talking Stick Resort Arena tonight, paying their respects to Kobe for the last time he will walk the halls of the arena in a Laker uniform.
And I don't care.
As a media member, I should care. Tonight's game will probably bring local and national media types out of the woodwork in which they've been hiding all season. We'll have a full media section, elbow to elbow. They will all want one more sound bite from Kobe.
But I couldn't care less. I've been a Suns fan since Kyle Macy ran point for the good guys and Magic Johnson ran point for the Lakers. I've been a Suns fans for Kobe's whole career, and I've hated him for at least half that time.
I don't disrespect Kobe for making every damn shot against the Suns in the 2010 playoffs. In fact, those games are, weirdly enough, the best version of Kobe I've ever witnessed.
What I disrespect is his attitude toward women, opponents and the people in general for most of his career.
What I disrespect most is how Kobe froze himself out of the second half of game 7 of the 2006 playoffs. The Lakers had a 3-1 series lead, only to blow it over the next two games to make it a winner-take-all game 7 in the Valley. After a somewhat competitive first half, the Suns blew out the Lakers to win the game by 30. Kobe decided he would barely take a shot in the second half as a protest to his sorry team.
Bryant tried to keep the Lakers in it in the first half by scoring 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The league's leading scorer, Bryant netted 50 points in Game 6.
But in a puzzling disappearing act, Bryant deferred to his teammates in the second half Saturday, taking just three shots and scoring one point on a technical free throw.
"I can't really give you an answer why he didn't shoot in the second half," Bell said. "Whatever happened we've got bigger fish to fry now."
Watch the series recap here.
I am a fan for a lot longer than I am a media member. I reserve the right to have no desire to speak to Kobe Bryant. And I reserve the right to look forward to the day Kobe Bryant is officially retired.
Suns should honor Kobe in his final game in PHX tomorrow him by giving everyone free Raja Bell clotheslining shirts. pic.twitter.com/F3PqdHzZGo— sreeks (@sreekyshooter) March 23, 2016