Many of today’s NBA stars grew up watching Kobe Bryant play for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won five championships in 20 seasons.
One current player who idolized Bryant growing up is Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who grew up in the Los Angeles area, attending Compton High School and USC.
In a recent interview with DeAntae Prince of Sports Illustrated, DeRozan called Bryant’s 81-point game in 2006 his favorite moment of Bryant’s, which is a bit ironic considering it came against the Raptors, DeRozan’s current team.
In the interview, DeRozan also talked about what advice Bryant has given him in the past:
I played against Kobe a lot in high school during the summers, even in college, just being that guy in L.A. coming up. He always gave me advice here and there and even the smallest things stuck with me. I watched every single thing that Kobe did, every game, every move. He made me a student of the game.
All the advice he received from Bryant has helped DeRozan become one of the best guards in the NBA. 2016-17 was DeRozan’s best season as a pro, as he averaged a career-high 27.3 points per game for the Raptors.
While there were some rumors about him potentially coming home to the Lakers when he was a free agent last summer, he ended up inking a max contract to stay in Toronto long term.
He will likely return to Los Angeles next February though for the All-Star game, which is set to take place at Staples Center.