With their season on the line, the Los Angeles Lakers were unable to come out with a win on their homecourt against the Phoenix Suns and the primary reason for that was the performance of Devin Booker.
The Suns All-Star guard scored 22 points in the first quarter that immediately put the game out of reach for the Lakers, and finished with 47 overall. It was a performance reminiscent of ones that Kobe Bryant was known for throughout his career and the relationship between the two is well known.
Bryant’s was very high on Booker and the young guard has a tattoo of Kobe’s message to him, “Be Legendary,” on his forearm. That Game 6 performance was undoubtedly legendary, and Booker said in his postgame interview that Kobe was on his mind throughout the game, via the official NBA Twitter:
“Honestly I was thinking about Kob[e] and the conversations that we had, kinda about what we just went through. The postseason, and being legendary, and taking the steps to get there. So seeing that 8 and that 24 up there with the way that the lighting at Staples has right here, it feels like its shining down on you. And I know he was here tonight. I know he was here tonight, I know he was in the building, I know he was proud.”
When Bryant retired from the NBA, and even more so since his untimely passing, many have debated who is the player to carry that Kobe torch for the new generation. The likes of Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving have been among those mentioned most in that argument, but none have put forth the performance inside the building that Kobe Bryant built that Booker just did.
Bryant lived to silence fans on the road and that is exactly what Booker did in Game 6. Even as the Lakers began creeping back into the game in the second half, it was almost always Booker making a play to ensure his team stayed ahead.
If Kobe was in the building he definitely would have been rooting for the Lakers to pull it out and continue to build on their legacy. But he absolutely would have appreciated Booker’s performance both as a mentor to him, as well as something he would have taken great joy in doing during his own playing days.
James praises Booker after Game 6
LeBron James himself was also extremely impressed with Booker and the way he played in Game 6 between the Lakers and Suns. James paid respect to Booker with a signed jersey after the game and had nothing but good things to say about him.
“Well first of all, I love everything about DBook,” James said. “I’ve had numerous conversations with him in the past and he continues to make the jump. When you want to be great in this league, and as he said, as Kobe told him to be legendary. When you want to be legendary in this game you got to continue to improve not only your game but you as a man and everything both on and off the floor.
“And the conversations I’ve had over the years, I can tell he’s soaked them up and is using them to his advantage and everyone sees what he’s able to do out on the floor right now but I think his maturity, him as a young man is what I’m most impressed about. So I love everything about Book so that’s the postgame interaction.”
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