Retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was arguably the most famous and notable player in the NBA from the mid-to-late-2000s, leading to countless future players growing up idolizing him, including future Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid.
Now Embiid is one of the NBA’s most promising young players, averaging 23.5 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.2 assist this season for the Sixers. On some level, it’s hard to see what he’s taken from Bryant’s game.
The two aren’t similar players, with Embiid standing several inches and weighing much more than Bryant while playing a far different position. They also have different personalities, with Embiid much more ebullient on and off the floor than Bryant, who could only be described as happy in the way he happily shot menacing glares all over the court.
Still, Embiid touched on how Bryant influenced him, and while he grew up in Cameroon, meaning his exposure to the NBA basketball was infrequent at best, he still saw something he related to in Bryant.
That’s something Embiid said he carries with him to this day, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“I just liked his mentality, the way he was playing. He just didn’t care,” Embiid says. “I think I needed to figure out a way to be like that more.”
“After 15 to 20 shots, I feel like my teammates might be looking at me,” Embiid says. “I don’t want that to be on me. But I feel like sometimes I need to.”
Bryant didn’t take all those shots because he had no conscience. He took them, Embiid says, because he knew he could make them. “He was always working on his shot, so that’s why he felt like he could. “When everyone else was partying, he was working on his shot. I have to get a little of that.”
Bryant hated to lose just as much, and while they display may have displayed it in different ways, on that level it’s easy to see how he and Embiid are similar.
While Bryant was far more cutthroat on the court and in his quotes, Embiid would rather troll and trash talk his way through games and on social media. So while Embiid and Bryant might not be mirror images, it’s fascinating to see all of the different forms Bryant’s impact has taken.
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