Like many young players around the NBA, Devin Booker admired the late, great Kobe Bryant during his playing days. The Black Mamba’s relentless work ethic and stellar play with the Los Angeles Lakers made him a role model to emulate for anybody looking to become a star in the league.
Booker himself became a mentee of Bryant’s early on his career due to their similar play styles and desire to be the best. Right up until Kobe’s tragic death, the young Phoenix Suns guard did his best to emulate him on the court.
Although Booker acknowledges that Bryant gave him some crucial knowledge to thrive in the NBA, he doesn’t want to be compared to the Hall of Famer. The 24-year-old explained why in a Monday appearance on The Jump.
“I haven’t really thought about it much,” Booker said when asked about his thoughts on the Kobe comparisons. “I know that it’s something that everyone has going on around now. But I didn’t make that comparison myself. I just leave it at what he’s done for me as a mentor and the advice that he’s left. So I try to take bits and pieces of his mentality and his approach.
“But you know, I should never be compared to Kobe Bryant.”
"I should never be compared to Kobe Bryant."
— ESPN (@espn) July 19, 2021
Booker’s answers makes sense for a few reasons. At such a young age, he hasn’t quite lived up to the standard that Bryant set during the early part of his career. It’s also very possible that the Suns star wants to carve out a unique path for himself, rather than be compared to one of the best players of all-time.
Booker also might not want to step on Bryant’s legacy in any way, but what he’s done so far throughout the 2021 NBA postseason has been Kobe-esque. The 24-year-old guard had helped lead the Suns through the playoffs and into the NBA Finals, where he’s been the team’s most consistent scorer. In 21 games during his first postseason as a pro, Booker is averaging 27.7 points, 4.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game, all with an impressive .565 true shooting percentage.
Despite the 24-year-old’s brilliance, the Suns find themselves in a 3-2 hole as the NBA Finals swing back to Milwaukee. Booker will need to put up another heroic effort if he hopes to keep Phoenix’s title hopes alive.