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Featured Gallery, Latest News, NBA / Aug 1, 2011 / 2:30 pm

Kobe Bryant: Stop Hating LeBron

Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James

Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James (photo. Nike Basketball)

Kobe Bryant knows a little something about criticism. From 2004 until about 2008, he was one of the most hated athletes in any sport. Amazing right? The guy is now universally loved. Yeah, he still has his haters. But no one is going out of their way to tear him down. Success took some shots at him, and he survived. Now LeBron James is going to need to do the same thing.

Because of that, Bryant is standing up for James. There are varying reports on how close James and Bryant are – some say they are friendly, others that Bryant respects Dwyane Wade much more – but as perhaps the two best players in the world, there is respect. And Bryant recently took an opportunity to let everyone know how he feels.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes:

When it comes to the criticism LeBron James endured in the wake of the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals failure against the Dallas Mavericks, Kobe Bryant has two words:

“Back off.”

Amid reflecting on his own team’s postseason demise against Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers guard had pointed words during an ESPN interview for those who have pointed a critical finger at the Heat forward.

“I think people need to lay off that kid, that’s what I think,” Bryant said of James. “I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, playing with the Olympic team, and I think they just need to back off him and just let him play and let him live his life and let him make his decisions and let him mature as a player.”

Bryant said he could relate to what James has had to endure in the six weeks since the Heat came up two victories shy of an NBA title in the Heat’s first season with the roster remix of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“It’s tough to be under the microscope like that all the time,” Bryant said. “So, I would like everybody to just back off of him and just let him play.”

Bryant has a point. This whole “Hate LeBron” campaign has gone overboard. It’s at a point now where people are almost forgetting why they hate him. They just do, and everything he does will be spun in a way to meet those expectations.

People hated the Decision. But now, it’s come to represent everything James is about. When we think of him, we don’t think of all the records, the back-to-back MVP years, the classic playoff performances. We think of one night from last summer.

I’m willing to guess that a few years from now, LeBron will have at least one ring, and most of the hate will be gone. Then, we’ll be spewing stories about how LeBron “changed” when in reality, it’s all about winning. Win a ring, learn to win, and the hate will slowly disappear.

For now though, even Bryant’s calls for the public to relax will probably go unheard.

What do you think? Do we all need to cut LeBron some slack?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

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  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    kobe should have said something like “come on people, its not like he got accused of rape”.

  • Speak Up

    Amen Kobe. Amen

  • darko’s doughnuts

    Kobe is the man

  • rik smits

    Bron’s PR gotta learn something from what Kobe’s people did

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Quiznakes K Dizzle

    @ ” the classic playoff performances”

    Huh?

  • Bballeducator

    I’m tired of this new wave of ” people need to stopping hating lebron” ….here’s what people need to do, stop telling me how I should or should not feel….I hate lebron, I’m going to continue hating lebron. I do not and will not feel sorry for him and don’t need to justify why I do not like someone.

  • George W Kush Sr

    Thats big of him to say that, certainly understand his point of view.

  • GenKnight

    People wouldn’t be so quick to hate him if Lebron hadn’t been thrown up in our faces for years. “Lebron” this and “Lebron” that and most of it out of season.

    When giants, self or artificially made, fall they make a big noise.

  • Big T

    I agree with #6.

    People can flock to his defense, write column after column… they can even air a TV series called, “The Intervention – LBJ Edition” – I still wouldn’t give a fuck. I’ll always dislike the guy. You’re no obligated to like everyone in sports and kiss their ass… there’s always going to be the villain and the other team you can’t stand.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    @Bballeducator

    its seem from your comments that you have alot of deep rooted feelings for Lebron. regular haters wouldnt have even read this article but real haters who love to sniff Lebrons nuts and tell the world how much they smell would go as far as to comment on it.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    see what im saying, i didnt even know there was a TV series called, “The Intervention – LBJ Edition” and im a Lebron fan.

  • Promoman

    There’s two differences between Kobe & LeBron hate.

    1) LeBron did it to himself. LeBron turned people off with The Decision. He’s been doing some pretty arrogant shit all along but he killed the Giving Tree as far the pass that he had with the Decision idea.

    2) LeBron still has it easiser than Kobe. Kobe caught hate from damn near Draft Day. Shaq led nearly the entire team against him to the point of him having to use other rooms to dress and clean up for years. He also got it from everybody else from everything to him aspiring to and actually working towards becoming great to marrying outside his race. This was before Eagle, Colorado. Kobe lost endorsements and caught even more flak after that. LeBron’s hate is strictly in terms of not winning and being arrogant. Kobe caught it on & off the court.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Ok, Kobe (who all of a sudden is universally loved? Ok Sean), I’ll do what you say. You’re a master of human psychology and emotion, and are therefore qualified to tell everyone how they should feel about someone else. Thanks for your input.

  • ctkennedy

    when u the best player in basketball…dont hate come with it ….people didnt like young Mike either…u win all the shi*t goes away …PERIOD

  • Big Island

    When we think of Lebron we think of a night last summer? Um, yeah. Until he does something else, that is his defining moment. When I think of Jayson Williams, do I think of his rebounds? Nope, shot his driver. Mike Vick touchdown runs? Nope, prison for dog fighting. Paul Pierce for having all types of numbers? Nope, wheelchair fag.

    Kobe’s situation is ENTIRELY different. He fell off for a rape charge. Lebron was just a dick about his whole team change, which I can’t even fault him for. Play on the beach, with my buddies, on a team that will be good? Sure! He just handled it so poorly, and then everything else from there on out so poorly, that he is a dick. I hate Kobe, but respect him, like Larry Bird. I love to hate Pierce, like Bill Laimbeer. Lebron is just a non story.

    Ultimately Kobe won’t be remembered for rape. Vick might not be remembered for dog fighting. Maybe Lebron being a spoiled little kid will be forgotten too.

  • Rainman

    Kobe Bryant was still a winner (multiple times). LeBron is a Loser. (multiple times)

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    @Rainman

    Kobe Bryant was a winner, until Shaq left, then he couldnt win till Pau was signed. twice, Kobe has failed to take home the championship with the team he prefers. lebron has only failed once with the team he prefers. Lebron is 1 for 1 in failure with Wade but so was Kobe and Pau in 2008 and they went on to knock out 2 straight championships.

    thats why i think Miami losing last season was the worst thing for all teams in the league, especially in the East.you wont be able to catch Miami slipping until they win a chip

  • Bballeducator

    @panchitoo
    Or I read it because I’m a teacher with 3 months of and no summer job and nothing better to do but read the article. So I feel I can talk about the stench of lebrons nuts all I want, and you can continue telling us about how his shit smells of roses

  • jnuh

    I hate them both equally for entirely different reasons.

    They can both go fuck themselves. And each other.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    @Bballeducator

    im not saying his shit dont stink, i agree hes a dick and so am i at times but what he does off the court doesnt effect me at all. i turn on the TV or buy tickets to a game cause i want to be entertained. and Lebron with a bunch of other players in the league entertain me to the fullest whenever i watch them. i love the game of basketball and only involve my emotions with things pertaining to basketball. i dont care or have any feelings pass that. if its not entertaining i turn off the TV and go about my life, in all honestly its not worth my hate or love.

  • Bballeducator

    Well I respect that ..and the ONLY reason I do not like lebron is my love for basketball and competition and it just seemed like he tried to take a short cut through competion and join two other Olympians completely destroying competion and earning a ring through hard work….. That and he has “the chosen one” tatted on himself and any one that arrogant that thinks they were chosen by god rubs me the wrong way…but your right on the court no one is more entertaining

  • deagletime

    Lebron and Tiger, winning forgives all. Ask Kobe and Michael Vick about that.

  • Big Island

    Nah, winning doesn’t forgive everything. You can screw up like Kobe and Vick, and eventually Tiger, and everyone will give you a second chance. You made a mistake, own it, bust your ass, and people are generally forgiving. Besides, they got caught doing things they shouldn’t have been doing outside of their sport.

    Lebron is unlikeable because of his attitude, and winning won’t stop the hate for that.

  • First & Foremost

    Normally I can debate basketball related issues just to be debating. However, I don’t have a dog in this fight. My strong disdain for both of them is pretty much the same.

    Carry on fellas…

  • Charles B.

    @Ponchitooooo
    I still hate how people say this kobe thing that he cant win without shaq or gasol…maybe thats true but how much did gasol win without kobe?? or how much did shaq win without kobe? once? and he was playing with wade and a great coach, and all them other years they didnt win..and he played with penny hardaway and they didnt win either. Didn’t they loose in the finals when he was with the magic (im not sure though)…so I’m not saying kobe can win on his own..but i think those guys needed him as much as he needed them. So stop making it sound like they saved him or something..it was mutual.

  • jzsmoove

    Kobe settling out of court for a rape case was an awesome move. I suspect Lebron would not get universally loved until he rapes someone(male or female) and settles out of court too. Those Larry Parker infomercials are still ringing in my ears…

  • superfreak

    @Charles B.

    I understand where you’re coming from but I think the reason why people argue the “Shaq can’t do it without Kob” thing is because Shaq was the man on those 3 championship teams. Could Shaq have done it without Kob those 3 years? We don’t know, but no one cares because Shaq was the MVP all 3 years.

    And also people keep saying that because it was Kobe who “forced” Shaq out of LA, just to show people that he could do it being #1, so naturally, when Kobe failed to win in the playoffs those 4 years, people are going to talk. I’ve never really heard anyone talk about Kobe not being able to win without Gasol though. We already know that’s the truth, there’s no justification needed for that.

  • First & Foremost

    LOL… male or female

  • JAY

    “we’ll be spewing stories about how LeBron “changed” when in reality, it’s all about winning”

    ^ If it were SOLELY about winning, LBJ would have taken an 8mill PER YEAR pay cut (like MJ did)… not 8 mill off his whole contract. He could have been paid 5-8 mill per and still be the highest paid player on that team (including endorsements). To me, LBJ isn’t “all about winning”.

  • LakeShow84

    It cracks me up how people say Kobe “couldnt win without Shaq”, and now it switches upto Kobe “couldnt win without Gasol”

    Do you people actually listen to yourselves??

    Dude wins it with a Gerald Wallace trade would it have been he couldnt have won it without Crash???

    Get off the crack people

    Kobe will have a better NBA career when its all said and done so who couldnt win it without who?????

    Shit Shaq lucked out and wouldve been 0-1 without Kobe had Wade not went HAM on the Mavs.. PSHHHHHHH

    Alonzo taking the Diesels minutes because of FT’s and overall bad play against ERICKA DAMPIER????

    Im sorry who won the chip for Kobe??? oh shit…. it was Kobe lol

    And in anycase ima hate on Lebron PERIOD until he mans up in the biggest of moments.. fuck WINNING.. hes on a winning team and Wade and Bosh will make sure it stays that way, i want to see him PUT UP when it all counts..

    Not get called out by FUCKING JASON TERRY AND ANOTHER NO NAME and not DO SHIT ABOUT IT..

    GTFOH.. you couldnt even talk to Larry Bird like that..

  • Sevenn Duece

    It’s sad to see grown men act like bitches about somebody they don’t even know. Oh well.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    @LakeShow84

    if anyone needs to lay off the crack its you…

    the point of my comments are that no one can win a championship by themselves and not who will have the better career when its all over.

    you say it cracks you up when people say Kobe only won with Shaq or Gasol on his team. then you go on to say if Gerald Wallace got signed Kobe would have won. thats my point exactly! Kobe cant do it by himself and he knew that as well as anyone when he begged Mitch for a better team back when the Lakers still has Smush Parker.

    if Shaq got lucky that Wade went HAM on Dallas to win his 4th championship then Kobe got lucky that Shaq went HAM on the whole league in his prime to win 3 straight.

  • Dish Master

    HAHA @ Big Island! “Paul Pierce? Nope, wheelchair fag.” Gotta love that shit.

    The only way to sum up Lebron: comical. And with that I’ll end with a joke: Don’t ask Lebron for change for a dollar, cuz he’ll only give you 3 quarters…

    Zing!

  • Lee

    @32

    If Smush Parker was on my team at the local park I’d beg for better players! Can’t fault Kobe for his actions, he was trying to win a chip.

  • JD

    I just love NBA Basketball – especially the fact that the game can actually f**K with peoples’ feelings. Nonetheless, people can choose to “dislike” players from what they’ve seen or heard from the media, but “hate” is quite a strong word and should not be used if your life has not been impacted negatively at a personal level – for example; I dislike Mark Cuban because of his monkey acts around the court, but I don’t hate him cause well… he doesn’t really harm me personally. For any whiners and pussies out there who like to share their opinions on how much they “hate” this player A, player B – those players doesn’t hate you, they don’t know you – frankly speaking they don’t give a shit about you, so why should you? just watch the game folks – have fun.