from his tendency to pout and throw visible temper tantrums to the fact that i think he’s legitimately certifiable (regardless of whether you think he should have been convicted of rape, you have to admit it’s nucking futs to try to have raw anal sex with someone you’ve never even met before), i have many good reasons to not be a big fan of kobe bryant.
this fact by itself isn’t ground-breaking. there are many people, from certain neighbors and baristas to r. kelly fans and people who act like they’re from harlem¹, that i’m not particularly fond of. this doesn’t necessarily mean that i dislike them; i just regard them with a bit of a “we don’t really need to share the same space” apathy. basically, i’d (probably) call for help if i witnessed them being mugged, but i’d also (probably) lie if the police asked me to provide a description of the mugger.
what makes my feelings for kobe notable is the fact that i actively root for him to fail. when i watch the lakers play, i want him to freeze out his teammates and inspire 5,000 “when will kobe finally get it?” articles the next day. i want whoever he’s guarding to score on him. i want him to force phil jackson to make phil jackson faces, and i want him to give charles barkley acid reflux. i want them to beat phoenix, just because i know that a loss to the celtics in the finals would be more devastating.
don’t get me wrong. this isn’t an iago/othello or stringer/omar level of distaste. i won’t lose any sleep if the lakers win the title, and i don’t wish any non-basketball adversity on kobe.
usually feelings like this are dismissed as “hating”, but there’s nothing about kobe that makes him more enviable than a hundred other millionaire superstar athletes. i think kobe’s status and success is well-deserved and appropriate. i just don’t want him to succeed on the basketball court.
this type of personal animus isn’t uncommon. the hundreds of thousands of blogs, articles, facebook status messages, and tweets clowning lebron james in the past two weeks proves that. in fact, i’d wager that everyone reading this has a person in mind whose failure would make the sun shine a little bit brighter that day.
what i’ve been trying to understand is why? what makes us derive happiness from the pain of others, even if their success (or lack thereof) has no real bearing on us or our lives?
the easy reason is that it makes you feel better about yourself, but i think it goes a bit deeper than that.
a) you perceive them to be in direct competition with someone you support
this actually gives a valid explanation for my feelings about kobe. for the past three years or so he’s been locked in a mythical death match with lebron james for the “best baller on earth” title. and, as a lebron james fan, any success kobe has is a mark against lebron’s candidacy. if he “wins”, the person i’ve been supporting “loses”, and i’ve come to realize that my particular form of kobeanimus stems from me just not wanting to be wrong².
b) they represent something you despise
a great recent example of this theory in action is the 2007 kanye west/50 cent soundscan battle. if you recall, 50 challenged kanye to a “who will sell the most records the first week” contest, and even stated that he’d retire from the rap game if he lost.
now, i don’t dislike 50 cent’s music. i actually think that “what up gangsta” is the best album intro song in hip-hop history, and i can honestly say that i’m convinced that 50 would be cooler in person than kanye.
but, the fact that i despise what the idea of 50 cent represents made me root for his spectacular failure. it wasn’t enough for kanye to win; i wanted 50 to be humbled and embarrassed.
c) you don’t actually dislike them that much. you just root against them because you hate the type of people who blindly support them
***anyone who’s ever been forced to converse with any laker, yankee, or cowboy fans, beyonce stans, members of the pandering patchouli and incense crowd, tea baggers, and anyone who’s ever defended a bush is nodding their heads in silent agreement***
d) they’re asking for it
admittedly, i can understand why so many people seemed to be so happy about lebron’s recent playoff mishaps. if you allow yourself to be referred to as “the king“, you leave yourself open for criticism.
e) they actually were in direct competition with you….a long, long time ago
this sounds like its too silly to actually be true…until you remember than you can probably name at least five or six people in your address book who still hold serious grudges with people over not being voted the junior homecoming queen in 1999.
anyway, people of vsb.com: can you add any more insight? why do you think we root for others to fail, even if that other might not even know that we exist? also, can you name anyone who inspires this type of feeling in you?
we’re all fam and sh*t. don’t be scurred
¹this doesn’t mean that i dislike people from harlem, just people who act “harlem”. in fact, you don’t even have to be from harlem to act harlem. this makes perfect sense to me, so i really don’t care if it makes sense to you.
²i’ve also come to realize that this idiotic kobeanimus makes me sound like a 14 year white kid from poughkeepsie, new york, and i’m trying to make amends to rectify it.
[***Admin Note: On June 3rd in New York City, The Champ will be on a panel with a few other "relationship experts" to talk about relationships, love, sex, and all that other good stuff, and he'd greatly appreciate your support. Go to moderndaymatchmaker.eventbrite.com for more details.Also, if you're planning on attending, please buy your tickets with the promotional code "VSB" to receive a 20% discount. Tickets are almost sold out, so it's probably not the best idea to wait for the last minute to purchase. Thanks!***]