On Friday, Philadelphia native and NBA legend Kobe Bryant turned 41 years old. He was greeted with a plethora of birthday cheers and well wishes from his many peers and friends on social media, including the Philadelphia Eagles. Bryant’s hometown football team re-posted a video from their Super Bowl run in a celebratory message to the retired superstar.
While Bryant has been very vocal about supporting the Eagles, even giving the team a pep talk before their game against the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, many diehard Eagles fans remain lukewarm about the former Laker. Bryant, who grew up in Ardmore and attended Lower Merion High School, has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the Philly faithful.
Some feel he turned his back on the area when he went to Los Angeles, then upset everyone in Philadelphia went he nonchalantly said “we’re going to cut your hearts out” during the 2001 NBA Finals. To be fair, Bryant was playing for the Lakers and he was right. The Lakers beat the Sixers in five games.
The future Hall of Famer received kudos seemingly from anyone that had ever picked up a basketball, guys like LeBron James, Pau Gasol and Isiah Thomas. James called Bryant the “GOAT” in his birthday note and set the tone for raging debates about who was better all day.
Eagles Fans Split on Kobe Bryant
The Eagles were quick to wish Kobe Bryant happy birthday from their official Twitter account, paying back the man for his inspirational words prior to their improbable Super Bowl run in 2017. Wearing a custom green No. 8 Eagles jersey, he told NBC10’s John Clark that he had his fingers crossed on a championship.
“I think the character of this team is special, and that’s what wins championships, is the character of the team, the spirit of the team,” Bryant said. “You have certain moments when you go up and down, but when the spirit of the team is a strong one, it’s a collective one, then you have something that’s really special. Fingers crossed.”
Meanwhile, Eagles fans seemed to be split on whether Bryant deserved his fandom. Some questioned his allegiance and posted Photoshopped images of Bryant donning a Cowboys jersey.
One user hilariously wrote: “There’s no way Kobe would watch an Eagles game if they were down 10 in the fourth quarter. Go away.”
Still, there were those that came to Bryant’s defense and reminded everyone that he was born in Philly. One well-researched fan posted a photo of Bryant wearing an Eagles jersey at a game in 2005.
Bryant Booed at All-Star Game in Philadelphia
Perhaps the biggest pockmark on the city of Philadelphia isn’t the fabled booing of Santa Claus. No, how about the time they hissed at hometown hero Kobe Bryant? The year was 2002 and the NBA All-Star Game was conveniently being held in Philadelphia. Bryant, who showed up wearing his dad’s Sixers jersey, was phenomenal in the showcase and scored 31 points en route to his first of four All-Star game MVP trophies.
He was expecting hearty cheers as he accepted the award after the game. Instead, the boos came raining down on him faster than a vat of Cheez Whiz. The newspaper the next day even referred to him as “Hometown Zero.”
“I was pretty, pretty upset,” Bryant told Bleacher Report. “Pretty hurt. I just wanted to go out there and just play — just play hard. But they booed, and, you know, I still like coming home, though. I still enjoy playing in Philly nonetheless.”’
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