I hate you, Kobe.

I hate you, Kobe.

I hate you for raising the bar too high.

I hate you for setting unrealistic expectations.

I hate you for always showing us that 100% wasn’t enough.

I hate you for showing us that no matter how hard you work, someone is always working harder.

I hate you for showing us that 9–5 doesn’t win championships; 4AM does.

I hate you for making it look so easy.

I hate you for challenging the idea that we will never see another Michael Jordan ever again.

I hate you for recreating Jordan’s presence in your own way; for my generation.

I hate you for taking away Iverson’s only chance at a ring.

I hate you for making it impossible to pay attention to anyone else.

I hate you for constantly reminding us that the game isn’t over until the buzzer rings.

I hate you for the anxiety, the excitement, the heartbreak of your buzzer beaters.

I hate you for Phoenix, Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York and every other heart broken city that had to witness your greatness.

I hate you for not flinching.

I hate you for the free-throw you didn’t need to take.

I hate you for 81.

I hate you for 5 rings. (f**king Boston.)

I hate you for changing the game.

I hate you for changing me.

I hate you for introducing me to the Black Mamba.

I hate you for showing me that there’s no such thing as “enough”.

I hate you showing me that no matter what happens along the way; no matter how many ups and downs; no matter how ambitious your goals are, they are always achievable.

I hate you for always getting back up stronger than ever.

I hate you for the focus, the determination, the resilience.

I hate you for the love, the passion, the addiction, the respect.

Most of all, I hate you for today.

For the lump in my throat writing this.

For the teary eyes every basketball fan will have tonight watching your magic for the last time.

For the empty feeling of “what do I do now?” when thinking of the NBA without the Mamba.

For the love, respect and admiration we have for you.

For the heartbreak of never seeing you in the purple and gold.

For the 2k-esque highlight reel.

For the teachings, the life-lessons, the growth as a human being.

For making it so easy to hate you.

I hate you for letting us watch you grow from a 17-year-old high school stand-out to a 5-time NBA Champion. We watched you celebrate, we watched you mourn and we watched you come back with a vengeance.

Most importantly, I hate you for doing it your way while still honouring the beautiful game and the legends before you.

I hate you, Kobe; for breaking the mold and making this the hardest day for any basketball fan in the world.

Thank you for 20 years of greatness, Kobe.