Feb 122002

If any of you watched the NBA All-Star game on Sunday, I hope you were as disgusted as I. No, it wasn’t Michael Jordan missing a wide-open dunk – although that was unbelievable – and it wasn’t the complete lack of defense, either. I was totally blown away by the behavior of the Philadelphia fans toward MVP Kobe Bryant.


City of Brotherly Love was anything but for the 23-year-old Bryant. He received boos during the player introductions, any time he touched the ball on the court, and especially when he received the MVP trophy.

But why am I surprised? I shouldn’t be – these are the same fans who booed Santa Claus, threw batteries at J.D. Drew, booed their own Mike Schmidt and Donovan McNabb (when he was drafted instead of Ricky Williams), as well as Michael Irvin when he went down with a serious neck injury. And Bryant is from Philadelphia!

The fans were vicious toward a player who has done nothing but play great basketball, but let’s try to see it from their point of view.

Bryant’s Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Championship last season, so obviously, there’s some resentment. It definitely looked like Bryant was out there trying to win the MVP

He took more shots (25) than anyone else in the game and was obviously putting in a greater effort than the rest of the All-Stars, who appeared to just be having fun.

I admit, I was a little disgruntled with all the shots he took – I thought he was being a ballhog, to put it bluntly.

However, this is nothing new in an all-star game. Michael Jordan once scored 40 points in an all-star game, and there is always that player who wants to come out and prove he is the best on the court. There is simply no excuse for the abuse Bryant received from the fans. After the game, instead of blasting back at the fans, Bryant took the high road and simply said the boos really hurt him.

“I don’t know what to say,” Bryant said. “It was something that I can’t really describe the feelings that I have when it happened. I’m happy to win MVP in Philadelphia. The booing was just hurtful, but it’s not going to ruin this day for me.”

What a classy response. I wouldn’t have been so easy on the fans. I probably would have reminded them that the Lakers beat the Sixers in five games last season, and that they probably could use some mouthwash to get that bitter taste out of their mouths. Bryant’s response just shows the maturity he has already obtained in his short NBA career.

I would have much rather have seen Jordan have an incredible game in his first All-Star game after coming out of retirement.

I’m just not a Kobe Bryant fan, or a Lakers fan for that matter. Yet I could not help feeling bad for a guy getting booed at his homecoming.

So the verdict is this: Philly fans have no one to boo but themselves.

Philadelphia is a great sports town and they have dedicated fans, but they should be ashamed of how they treated someone from their own turf.

I guess I should know by now that most Philly fans would boo their own mothers if they had the chance. n

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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