As Kobe Bryant’s career winds down, a new era of stars is starting to emerge in the NBA. Many of these stars have grown up watching Bryant and trying to be like him, the same way guys from Bryant’s era watched Michael Jordan.
One of the league’s fastest rising stars is Indiana Pacers guard Paul George. George grew up right outside of Los Angeles, and has watched Bryant since he was a child. George told Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding that he did everything to mirror Kobe as a child:
Anything you can think of. I had the Kobe jersey. I would do the Kobe walk. I would walk around the house doing the Kobe stare-down face. Anything you can name, I was idolizing him, trying to be like him.
George would inherit a lot of Bryant’s ways not only from watching him, but from having the luxury of working with former Lakers assistant Brian Shaw, who served as a Pacers assistant coach before taking over the Denver Nuggets.
Shaw used stories of Bryant to push George into greatness. Much like Bryant, George thrives on both sides of the ball, being just as good of a defender as he is on offense.
Even though he now battles Kobe on the court, his admiration for Bryant remains and he talked more about the impact that Bryant had, not only on himself, but on the NBA as a whole:
I feel like Kobe will go down as a top-five player who ever played in this league. He’s been that great to this league. He’s been iconic in the same way that (Michael) Jordan touched it.
Not everyone is wired the same way that Kobe is, but when you get someone with amazing physical gifts, wired in that way, it only makes sense that there is an admiration and mutual respect.
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