The Los Angeles Lakers have been blessed with many star players over the years, but Kobe Bryant arguably stands above the rest thanks to his two decades in purple and gold. He impacted the franchise and the sport in an unprecedented way, and will forever be a legend for his skill and unwavering determination.
Current NBA stars, such as Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, grew up idolizing Bryant. A native of Compton who played his college ball at USC, DeRozan spent his formative years living in the glory of the Shaq-Kobe Lakers. As such, it’s no surprise that when Spalding gave DeRozan an opportunity to honor someone who impacted the game, he chose Bryant:
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) December 21, 2016
Spalding created 125 special-edition basketballs to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the sport, and after sending a ball to DeRozan, they asked him to choose another person who has impacted the game to receive one. It’s a nice way for the stars of today to pass along their gratitude to those who came before them.
DeRozan, who was long considered to be a favorite to join the Lakers last summer in free agency, ultimately decided to re-sign with the incumbent Raptors, despite Los Angeles being his hometown. Since then, DeRozan has enjoyed a career year and is currently fourth in the league in scoring at 27.9 points per game.
While he opted not to join the Lakers, DeRozan will always be connected to the city that he grew up in. He may never wear the purple and gold that he grew up watching but DeRozan’s decision to select Kobe Bryant still speaks volumes about how much the Lakers legend means to him.