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Kobe Bryant might be the best bad guy in Phoenix sports history

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts to a call as Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe holds his eye during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

If you google “best bad guys in movie history” the second link is from the American Film Institute.

Hannibal Lecter is number one. Darth Vader is number three. Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is fifth followed by Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Glenn Close and her “Fatal Attraction” character at number seven.

The Terminator, Gordon Gekko, Heath Ledger’s The Joker and my personal favorite, Hans Gruber, also made the cut.

A loathsome, well-acted villain makes a good movie great. Without Alan Rickman, “Die Hard” is just another action movie. “The Dark Knight” is a tremendous movie but when Ledger is on the screen it’s just…captivating.

Sports is no different and that’s why in a weird way I’m going to miss Kobe Bryant. He might be the best villain in the history of Phoenix sports. In good times and bad he always made it more interesting.

The clothesline, the championships, that bizarre game when he refused to shoot the ball in the playoffs, the legions of Lakers fans who turn out every time he and the Lakers are in town, Mike D’Antoni’s infamous we’re-gonna-bust-em line, to recent revelation that the Suns were one of the few teams to whom he would have approved of a trade. As he prepares to play his last game ever against the Suns it is clear the pain wouldn’t have been as pronounced or the joy as sweet without him.

His relevance has gone through the slow fade for the last few years, and during that time the Dodgers and the Seahawks have been more-than-suitable replacements for Kobe’s villainous ways. Still, he’ll be missed.

One other thought on Kobe: I was struck by Devin Booker’s comments to AZCentral in which he said, “Best player of my generation. My dad always talks about Michael Jordan, I talk about Kobe. He means a lot to us.”

I too am from the Jordan generation and while we might shrug at the farewell tour of a player who seemingly left years ago, an entire generation of basketball fans probably feels different.

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