It’s not easy being green, but Kobe Bryant embraces it.
In this instance, though, the Los Angeles Lakers guard isn’t sad, nervous or even envious. Green is more than just the color of his archrival Boston Celtics.
“It’s actually my favorite color,” Bryant told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. “I don’t have green clothes. It’s tough to pull that off. (Former Lakers guard) Jerry (West) won’t even wear green drawers. He and I have talked about this before. He’s just allergic to green. It’s been my favorite color forever. I’m fine with green.
“I’ve always loved it. It’s a little weird, isn’t it?”
It’s fitting, then, that his favorite championship (of the five he won) came against the Green themselves in 2010, after losing to the Celtics in 2008 — including a 39-point blowout loss in the clinching Game 6.
“I don’t know how we won it,” Bryant said, referring to Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. “We had a feeling in the huddle that we were going to win it. We just had no idea how. We just kept chipping away and chipping away and chipping away, and all of the sudden, we found ourselves in the game with a chance to kind of steal it.”
The Celtics had a brilliant game plan: double team Kobe all night, and force his inner “hero ball” nature to take over, pushing him to take bad or contested shots. It worked: Bryant shot just 6-of-24 from the field, though his 11 free throws bumped his point total to a game-high 23. He found other ways to contribute instead, pulling down 15 rebounds.
“They caused a lot of problems for me,” he said. “I had to figure out how to beat them another way. That’s the responsibility you have to have. You’ve got to figure out some kind of way to have an imprint on the game, and then if the game is close and you have a chance to make a big shot, then it’s your responsibility to make one.
“Fortunately, I was able to make a nice pull-up jumper and give us a little cushion. But it was a tough game.”
After losing in 2008, especially in such embarrassing fashion, Bryant nearly drove himself mad searching for revenge. The Lakers won the 2009 title over the Orlando Magic, after Kevin Garnett’s injury prevented Boston from a return trip to the Finals. In 2010, the rematch was on, and after listening to the Dropkick Murphys for two years, Bryant exacted that revenge.
Things are different now. No member of those 2010 Celtics remains on the roster, and the five-win Lakers have fallen from grace themselves. But this is still the Celtics and Lakers. Is he expecting the same embrace from the Boston crowd that he’s warmly received everywhere else?
“Love-hate fest sort of thing,” Bryant guessed. “I’m bringing my family down, because my kids have never even been to Boston. They’ve never even been to Boston. I’m looking forward to them getting a chance to see the city a little bit. And then just experience the green.
“It’s just a different green. I want them to be able to see that.”
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images