Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns will look to stave off elimination in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday evening after losing each of the past three games.
For Booker and the upstart Suns, this is an opportunity to prove that no stage is too big for them. In the lead up to the game, the star guard responded to off-handed comparisons to late-great former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Booker was having none of it.
“I haven’t really thought about it that much. I just leave it at what he’s done for me. I should never be compared to Kobe Bryant,” Booker said on ESPN’s The Jump with former NBA player Richard Jefferson.
That’s pretty much the best anyone could ask for from the 24-year-old rising star. In the midst of his first ever playoff appearance as an NBA player, Devin Booker knows full well that comparisons to one of the best ever just don’t make sense.
Why are people suddenly comparing Devin Booker to Kobe Bryant?
Outside of Booker and Bryant both being the 13th pick in the NBA Draft, there’s really not a lot to draw on here. In reality, it could be all about Booker’s rising star status and how Kobe helped him during the latter stages of the all-time great’s career. Booker spoke to that immediately after Bryant’s tragic passing at the age of 41 back in January of 2020.
“The biggest thing for me was earning his respect, To even be the guy in the room after we play them that he wanted to talk to or share advice with. Then our relationship had grown from there,” Devin Booker told reporters following Bryant’s death, via AZ Central. “Just figuring out what type of person he was outside of the ‘Mamba Mentality.’ How he raised his daughters and how much of a family man he was something that was just incredible.”
As Kobe was finishing up one of the most-legendary careers in Association history, he took to a mentoring role when it came to youngsters. Booker himself was a rookie during Bryant’s final season in the NBA back in 2015-16. He is one of those the “Black Mamba” helped.
For his part, Devin Booker has been absolutely brilliant in his first taste of NBA Playoff action. Through 21 games this postseason, the former Kentucky star is averaging 27.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists on 45% shooting from the field.
Coming back from a 3-2 series deficit against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks would help Booker hit legendary status in the desert metropolis. Even then, he’d have a long way to go to be compared to Bryant. At the very least, the guard seems to understand this.