In the two years since the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, fans have attempted to find the modern NBA’s version of the Black Mamba. Just as Bryant modeled his game after Michael Jordan, many in today’s league have tried to emulate Bryant’s Hall of Fame career.
One of the players who has drawn the strongest Bryant comparisons is Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker. After years of struggling to reach the playoffs with a lackluster roster, Booker was the team’s superstar on their path to the 2021 NBA Finals, a path that ran through Bryant’s Lakers.
This is when comparisons between the two reached their peak, especially after how often Booker showed his love and respect for Bryant in the months following his death. Both play the same position and have a similar offensive game style, fueling the flame connecting the two. Booker even once scored 70 points in one game.
However, Booker — after recent social media jokes surrounding his outburst at the Toronto Raptors mascot — attempted to put an end to fans trying to call him the Black Mamba or the next Bryant, saying that it’s his one problem with his social media interactions, according to Kellan Olson of Empire of the Suns:
“Yeah, I’ll sound off on the situation. I just talked about putting things in perspective, and I’m really enjoying and I always have enjoyed social media. I check it daily, and if they’re saying good things about me I don’t get too high, and I don’t get too low on it.
The only problem I have is people still comparing me to Kobe Bryant. I told them in the playoffs, stop bringing up Mamba Mentality. I’m inspired by Kobe Bryant and Mamba Mentality but I am not Kobe Bryant. And people are out here yelling ‘Mamba Mentality’ from the Mamba’s house, I’ll leave it at that.”
Booker is obviously one of Bryant’s biggest fans in the NBA today. And that’s part of why he has no interest in being compared to him. Booker is absolutely a great player, but Bryant is one of the best players of all time.
Booker being accepting of comparisons to Bryant would bring on an unnecessary level of pressure for a player already trying to get over the hump to win his first NBA championship. Booker has enough to focus on this season without having to carry the weight of being known as the next Black Mamba.
Russell Westbrook describes move to L.A. as bigger than basketball
Like Booker, Lakers star Russell Westbrook has also been under the social media microscope in recent weeks. In the midst of an abysmal shooting slump, Westbrook said he has no regrets about joining the Lakers because he gets to be close to his family in L.A., calling the move bigger than basketball.
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