With Kobe Bryant set to play in his 18th and final All-Star Game, the memories and stories of the Los Angeles Lakers legend are pouring in from all over the basketball world.
In Reggie Miller’s case, he has an extremely tortured relationship with Bryant.
"I hate him because, in 2000 when we battled for a championship, he was just too good," Miller told USA Today. "Obviously, along with Shaq (O’Neal), that Laker team denied me from the ultimate goal in winning a championship."
Miller’s 18 title-less years with the Indiana Pacers built more than just competitive hate for Bryant, of course. All the encounters with Kobe gave Miller a deep appreciation and respect for him as well.
"I love him, I hate him, and I respect him," Miller told USA Today. "I love him because, when you come in at 18 and you play 20 years at the shooting guard position, and to end it all with one (championship ring) for the thumb and the amount of minutes, points and mileage that he’s put on his baggage, that shows me a love for the game.
"And I respect him for what he is doing now, because you’ve got to take a back seat. Father time catches up to all of us, and to have to be able to pass the torch and the legacy to guys like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, it’s tough for superstars to give an inch and Kobe has had to take a step back and assess what’s important to him. So I respect him giving back to these young guys and teaching them what it’s going to take to be successful in this league."
So, really, what Reggie is telling us is he has absolutely no idea how to really feel about Kobe after competing against him for many years, which Kobe would probably take as the ultimate compliment and a sign of a Hall of Fame career well done.