In the two months since the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others, countless players and people surrounding the NBA have told stories.
Some stories like the one Michael Jordan told at Bryant’s public memorial were heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Meanwhile, players like Iman Shumpert and DeMar DeRozan told stories that make people laugh.
DeRozan, in particular, was a well known Bryant fan, wearing his shoes in almost every game he played in. His love for Bryant was a part of the reason why many thought he might return to the Los Angeles Lakers when he was a free agent, instead opting to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors.
On Instagram Live, DeRozan told a story of a time he wore Jordan shoes in a matchup against Bryant and the Lakers, via Bleacher Report:
.@DeMar_DeRozan tells the story of when he wore Jordans against Kobe
“Soon as he walked on the court, he was mad as a motherf–ker” ???? @brkicks
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 26, 2020
Through all the stories that have been told about Bryant, one of the consistent themes through all of them has been about his competitive nature. This was always told through the lens of his Mamba Mentality, a phrase that defined him throughout the course of his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame career.
Even as the world faces a pandemic that has caused the NBA to shut down operations, players and fans alike can still come together and remember Bryant.
DeRozan was one of the players who had to play a game immediately after the news of his passing and showed an immense amount of emotion as he embraced Kyle Lowry.
DeRozan will never forget the importance of his idol and likely won’t wear Jordan shoes in favor of Bryant’s ever again.