The St. Louis Cardinals are heading down to Jupiter, Florida, for the beginning of spring training. Major League Baseball is nearly here, but pitcher Jack Flaherty is drawing attention for a different reason. The Los Angeles native showed up to training dressed to pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.
According to photos posted by Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Flaherty was wearing a pair of purple Lakers shorts. The team logo was on one leg and the words "Most Hated" were on the other. Flaherty paired the shorts with a white t-shirt that appeared to feature a black and white photo of Bryant.
Flaherty is one of the many to pay tribute to his hometown hero following Bryant's tragic death in a helicopter crash two weeks ago. Athletes from the NBA, NFL, and PGA have also worn Lakers jerseys as a way to showcase their respect for the late icon and everything that he achieved.
Cardinals ace and LA native Jack Flaherty paying homage to Kobe as he arrives to spring training today pic.twitter.com/GHiZUqUYJR— Benjamin Hochman (@hochman) February 10, 2020
This isn't the first time that Flaherty has shown his respect for Bryant. The Cardinals ace sat down with Kristine Leahy of Fair Game in February 2019 to discuss several different topics. Among them was why he felt that LeBron James would never reach the level of Bryant despite being one of the NBA's best players.
"Whenever we have that conversation, I am biased. I am from L.A.," Flaherty said. "Kobe is who I grew up watching. He was my favorite guy. So him [James] coming to L.A., it's taken a minute, and it was weird. Like, I don't want to say I've ever rooted against him, but I actually had to root for him.
As the pitcher continued to explain to Leahy, he didn't think that he would ever become a James fan. The reason for this lack of faith is that he didn't see that consistent level of performance that rivaled Michael Jordan or Bryant. Those past stars had the "dog" in them, as Flaherty said. He saw glimpses of that competitor in James, but it wasn't on par with Bryant.
Flaherty's opinion may have changed amid a 39-12 season in which the Lakers have taken control of the Western Conference, but there is no denying that Bryant is still the pitcher's favorite player. His clothing choices at spring training are evidence of this fact.
(Photo Credit: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)