Once Kobe Bryant made history Sunday night in Minnesota, overtaking Michael Jordan as the NBA’s third-leading scorer of all time, things came to a halt.
Fans gave Bryant a roaring ovation and he accepted hugs and handshakes from his Laker teammates and Timberwolves players.
Fans in opposing gyms may hate Kobe for what he’s done to their teams over the years (and for being, well, Kobe), but they appreciate greatness, and he says that he was moved by their warmth.
Per the LA Daily News:
“I’m so used to being the villain all the time on the road,” Bryant said. “It took a minute to adjust. But I got to say it felt good to be appreciated.” […] Once Bryant eclipsed Jordan on the all-time scoring list, the game immediately stopped. The crowd gave Bryant a standing ovation. While Bryant shook hands and exchanged hugs with teammates and opponents alike, the Timberwolves played a video tribute in Bryant’s honor. Minnesota owner Glen Taylor then presented Bryant with the game ball. Bryant called the gesture “classy,” while Lakers coach Byron Scott called it both “very classy” and “impressive.”
“I’m used to being the villain,” Bryant said again. “You have moments like that when you’re not expecting a hug and you get a hug and it’s like this feels pretty damn good.”
“When it comes to basketball, that’s just what I am naturally,” Bryant said. “I think competitive nature is something that frightens a lot of people. When you peel back truly what’s inside of a person to compete and be at that high level, it scares a lot of people that are comfortable just being average. I think if you look at Michael’s retirement speech, people really got a chance to see how he ticks. It scared a lot of people, right? But that’s just the reality of it. You can’t get to a supreme level without kind of channeling the dark side a little.”