He wasn’t hated so much when he was playing basketball. For the majority of his career, Kobe was a beloved player.
You’re talking about a player who was so popular that:
-He took R&B singer Brandy to the prom before he even played an NBA game
-He was voted an all star STARTER in 1998 when he was a bench player averaging 15 PPG
-He was in numerous advertisements and commercials and probably the most well marketed athlete of his generation (aided by the Jordan comparisons)
-He has a statue of himself in China erected before he died. To this day, Kobe is the most popular player in China, perhaps rivalling even Ya
-He got a standing ovation from the Lakers crowd after he came back from the rape trial. None of his teammates backed him up in that trial FYI
-His fans will never blame him for anything when he loses or has a bad game and instead blame everything around him (injuries, drama, teammates etc) and some fans even blamed Phil Jackson for not letting him take more shots (lol) even though he already had the greenest light in basketball and who will give Kobe 100% of the credit whenever his team wins.
-had the highest selling jersey in the league for years until his retirement
-whose fame transcends basketball (even non basketball fans know who Kobe is)
-got tributes from all around the world when he died. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai lit up when he died. This is for a basketball player!
-To this day, he has a legion of devoted fans around the world who say he’s a top 2 player all time despite all the evidence against him being that high and who will defend Kobe to the death
-To this day, the media refuses to cover anything bad about Kobe. When Jeremy Lin spoke out against Kobe’s attitude, the media refused to cover all the stories about Kobe being a bad teammate. All of Kobe’s bad games are never covered, and instead the media shows his highlights of his 81pts or sinking 2 free throws on a torn achilles, or 60 point last game, or 62 in 3 quarters game. Only his best moments get shown by the media.
The only time Kobe was ever ‘hated’ was from 2004–2007 when he shot the Lakers out of a Finals into an upset victory by the Pistons, chased Shaq out of LA, Phil Jackson published a book that didn’t paint Kobe in a good light and left LA, Kobe had losing seasons and started demanding a trade out of LA, and had a rape trial on top of that. However, once he started winning again in 2008, people forgot about all that and started praising him again, so it was short lived.