From a distance, it doesn’t make much sense, so I have to ask myself, “why am I rooting for the Lakers”.
Growing up a Knicks fan, and a New York sports fan at large, I should loathe any franchise from either Boston or L.A. Thus, I had to question my instincts, when, with 2 minutes to go during game 5 I wanted so badly for the Lakers to win.
Based on their parts I should certainly prefer the Celtics. The Celtics have everything I want from a basketball team in the way of individuals.
Kevin Garnett: the definitive 20/10 man of our generation. Posting stat lines that any fantasy geek would enjoy and doing it with grit that we all admire as sports fans.
Ray Allen: the best pure shooter since Bird. I admire “pure” anything in sports- i.e. Griffey in regards to hitting.
Rajon Rondo: we love this type of undersized underdog story. Rondo was the question mark in the 2008 Celtics, and now he is the leader and playing consistently bigger than his frame. He also kinda makes me want to wear a headband, kinda.
Paul Pierce: the underrated scorer, who never seems to be mentioned with the games top scorers, yet is never at a loss for huge moments on big stages. Plus, he survived being stabbed in a club, and that is just cool on a street cred level.
Likeable role players like Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins.
Doc Rivers: I should be proud of this ex-Knick who whose biography was the subject of one of my first book reports. Also, I love a players coach with an affinity for designing solid “out of bounds plays”.
… on the other hand, The Lakers.
Kobe Bryant: alleged rapist. As a man who believes strongly in women’s rights, and also in the assumed fact that when a man is accused of rape, he usually did it, I should hate this man.
Pau Gasol: Soft, European, bad hair, ugly… that should suffice.
Unlikable trust fund baby role player: Luke Walton.
Derek Fisher: aside from the serial flopping, I really like this guy. Not too much negative to say here.
Phil Jackson: not a big fan of his “power of positive thinking” self-improvement book writing style. Undeniably a winner, but for me, he seems too pompous and comfortable.
However, upon further reflection I realize, in this case, there is only one of the above pieces that matters. That piece is Kobe Bryant. I want the Lakers to win because I want to believe in greatness, and Kobe, is great. When Kobe smoked 19 pts in the 3rd quarter last night I was practically giddy – I want every shot he launches to end at the bottom of the net. I’m ashamed of myself for subconsciously forgiving him of rape, but I can’t help it. As a fan of anything, whether it is decorative cake-making or drumming, I enjoy mastery of one’s craft.
It’s the same reason we root for Tiger Woods, even though he plowed through half of America’s cocktail waitresses. It’s why we root for Michael Phelps even though he is a dorky awkward d-bag. And it’s why we rooted for Michael Jordan despite the gambling stories, despite his nastiness towards teammates (the same problem that makes people dislike Kobe), despite how he came back with the Wizards as a shell of himself, and despite how he turned his back on the game to pursue a pathetic baseball career. But none of that could ruin his legacy because Jordan was truly great. Tiger, Phelps, MJ – they won the most of anyone (of this generation), so we revere their greatness.
Sometimes I wish I were ten years younger, so I could have been old enough to appreciate Jordan in his prime. But this is exactly why I want to see Kobe win now. Why I want to see him win his fifth, then his sixth and even seventh ring. I want to be able to say I witnessed greatness. Chasing down this legacy is what makes Kobe so fun to watch, and why I have to root for him. Thus, so long as Kobe wears purple and gold I will also have to root for, the Lakers.