“I am inspired by Kobe Bryant and Mamba Mentality, but I am not Kobe Bryant” – Devin Booker on being compared to Kobe
Devin Booker dropped 47 points as the Suns eliminated the defending champion Lakers with a 113-100 win in Game 6 on June 3, 2021, handing LeBron James his first defeat in a first round series in 15 tries.
Devin Booker had this to say after the game: “I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had. Kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there. So seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at STAPLES has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you. And I know he was here tonight. I know he was here tonight. I know he’s in the building. I know he was proud.”
Months after Kobe Bryant’s untimely death, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Jump that Booker and Bryant “were very, very close.” Devin Booker told Bleacher Report in August, 2020 that Kobe Bryant serves as his inspiration: “Kobe’s with me every day. You guys see what I put on my shoes with the ‘Be Legendary.’ It’s a reminder,” he said. Booker faced off with Kobe Bryant only once, when the Suns beat the Lakers on March 23, 2016. After the game, Kobe reached out to then rookie and gave him his autographed shoes.
Kobe said about Booker: “He went straight to my move, first time, he called yeah not gonna beat me on my move man like you know but I mean it was great to see, it was obviously great to see him because I remember I did the same thing with MJ. He’s fantastic, he has the right attitude, he has a right competitive spirit, I think his footwork is extremely sound, his fundamentals are extremely sound and now it’s just about him figuring out exactly what his game is, then he can go to that every single night and then make counters off of it, but he has the skills, the skills are there.”
Booker can dominate you and take a game over from beyond the arc, in the mid-range and his finishing ability is different. Just look at the way he finishes above defenders around the rim. His awareness is elite and he has Kobe Bryant-type skill and movement at times. You can tell that he learned a lot from him. I like his footwork, the way he operates on the low block back to the basket, he’s got floaters, he’s got runners, euros and so many acrobatic moves around the rim, reverse lay-ins from both sides of the floor, right hand, left hand, he can create with range, he can pull up from deep and in transition, play at multiple paces.
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest NBA players of all-time and the greatest Laker ever. Two jersey numbers in the rafters at the STAPLES Center prove it. Kobe was able to take over games in ways that not many players could.
His drive to win at any cost helped him succeed on and off the court. An 18-time NBA All-Star, five-time NBA champion and one-time NBA MVP, he tragically passed away on January 26, 2020.
Kobe worked like he had no talent, then he played like he believed he was the best player in the world. Prepare with humility; perform with confidence, that’s one of the many lessons he taught us.