CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As Kobe Bryant makes the rounds on his farewell tour, bidding adieu to road arenas one by one before heading off into retirement this summer, some stops mean far more than others for the Los Angeles Lakers icon.
And perhaps no stop means as much -- or carries as much personal history for Bryant and for his team -- as Wednesday's: He will play his final game in Boston against the archrival Celtics, a team Bryant faced twice in the NBA Finals -- losing in 2008, then winning in 2010.
In terms of what to expect from the crowd, the 37-year-old Bryant said he wasn't entirely sure.
"Love-hate fest sort of thing," Bryant said Monday after his team's 108-98 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena. "I'm bringing my family down, because my kids have never even been to Boston. They've never even been to Boston. I'm looking forward to them getting a chance to see the city a little bit. And then just experience the green.
"It's just a different green. I want them to be able to see that."
Speaking of the color green, Bryant added, "It's actually my favorite color. I don't have green clothes. It's tough to pull that off. [Former Lakers guard] Jerry [West] won't even wear green drawers. He and I have talked about this before. He's just allergic to green. It's been my favorite color forever. I'm fine with green."
A Laker who has often said he bleeds purple and gold loves the color of that team's bitter foe? It might seem hard to believe, but Bryant swears it's true.
"I've always loved it," Bryant said. "It's a little weird, isn't it?"
Bryant also reflected on what he has often called the most satisfying of his five championships: the 2010 Finals win over the Celtics.
That series lasted seven games and helped Bryant and the Lakers avenge the 2008 Finals loss, when the Celtics beat the Lakers by 39 points in closeout Game 6 at TD Garden.
However, the Lakers didn't win Game 7 easily in 2010. They trailed by 13 points in the third quarter, and Bryant struggled all night, finishing with 23 points on 6-of-24 shooting. He did add 15 rebounds and hit 11 of 15 from the free throw line.
"I don't know how we won it," Bryant said of Game 7 in the 2010 Finals. "We had a feeling in the huddle that we were going to win it. We just had no idea how. We just kept chipping away and chipping away and chipping away, and all of the sudden, we found ourselves in the game with a chance to kind of steal it."
Speaking of himself in that game, Bryant credited the Celtics' defense.
"They caused a lot of problems for me," he said. "I had to figure out how to beat them another way. That's the responsibility you have to have. You've got to figure out some kind of way to have an imprint on the game, and then if the game is close and you have a chance to make a big shot, then it's your responsibility to make one.
"Fortunately, I was able to make a nice pull-up jumper and give us a little cushion. But it was a tough game."
Bryant has been receiving cheers at virtually every road arena he has played in so far this season, though it's not clear if that will continue in Boston. Bryant did say he misses playing the villain role, which meant being booed at road arenas.
"Yeah, it was just so natural to me for so many years," he said. "It became something that just felt comfortable. It felt a little awkward at first, to be honest with you, to get this praise, but I'm glad they didn't do this many, many years ago, because it's like Kryptonite. It would've taken away all my energy and all my strength, because I relied a lot on being the villain. Sometimes, the best way to beat the villain is to give them a hug."
So would he like more boos, especially considering the Celtics are up next?
"Nah, if [the 5-27 Lakers were] a championship-caliber team, honestly, I would probably come out and say something extremely controversial just to piss everybody off so everybody hates me for one more year," Bryant said with a laugh. "But I don't need to do that."