The Boston Celtics might be the historical rivals to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Sacramento Kings might be the real thing. A venomous rivalry brewed during the three-peat area between the Northern and Southern California teams, and even with it being dormant for so long, both sides still feel those wounds.
Kings fans despise Kobe and the Lakers and surely can't wait to boo him for the last time. Disgust turns to hatred when the purple and gold poured salt on those gashes for three straight postseasons. Lakers fans have 16 titles and that playoff run to poke at any time Kings fans take a swing at the purple and gold armor. This type of animosity wasn't foretold by history, but bloomed organically through playoff pandemonium.
And, quite frankly, it's awesome. Bryant's been branding up the heroes and villains angle during his retirement, and he's certainly a villain on this stage.
Suffice to say Kobe's final game in Sacramento is going to be an interesting experience. The Kings plan on honoring Bryant with a pregame ceremony that will include Vlade Divac, which should be the perfect time for Sacramento fans to let the Black Mamba know how they really feel about him. Boston hardly bared it's fangs, while it's hard not to envision Thursday night to be anything but a vicious farewell and good riddance from Kings fans.
The Lakers expect both D'Angelo Russell and Bryant to be available, bringing the roster back up to full strength after playing shorthanded against the Golden State Warriors. The mix of farewell tour nostalgia, young talent and DeMarcus Cousins should make this a fascinating game to witness. Enjoy the game.
So long, Sacramento. Something Kobe's said a few times in his career:
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: TWCSN. TNT