It would be safe to say that there will never be another Kobe Bryant. The former Los Angeles Lakers superstar was one of a kind with his relentless pursuit of greatness, an undying passion for the game, and a mentality unlike any other.
Although there will never be another Kobe, one player in the NBA today that has drawn comparisons to the Lakers legend is Russell Westbrook. Even Bryant himself has seen similarities between them.
On Friday, Kobe was asked by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith about Westbrook recently being snubbed as a Western Conference starter for the NBA All-Star Game. Bryant’s
“I think the voters just raised the level of intensity of the All-Star Game to another level,” Kobe told Stephen A. Smith. “Listen, when he shows up to play the All-Star Game he is one of the few players that competes hard as if it’s a regular season or playoff game. He’s coming no matter. I think now, being that he’s not a starter, he just going to come even more intense than before.”
Bryant cautions the Eastern Conference All-Stars to be ready for a motivated Westbrook on Feb. 19 in New Orleans:
“So, the other side better be ready to match his level of intensity because he’s going to come ready to play, and whether he starts or comes off the bench, it’s not going to make a difference. Whatever time he has in that game, he’s going to come for you. I think the fans should be ready for a pretty intense show.”
Kobe is likely right on the money with his assessment of Westbrook and the added motivation of a legitimate MVP candidate getting snubbed as an All-Star starter. Although Westbrook has reacted to the voting in typical fashion by saying “I don’t play for All-Star bids” (via Bleacher Report), a very Kobe-like response, the showdown between the best of the best in the NBA is bound to be that much more entertaining with one of the league’s exciting bring some added motivation to the game next month.