Devin Booker
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Devin Booker Is The Next Kobe Bryant In The Eyes Of Stephen A. Smith

Devin Booker is inspired by his mentor, the late Kobe Bryant. Stephen A. Smith made a comparison between the two NBA stars after Booker’s performance in Game 1.

“Devin Booker is the next Kobe Bryant. It is official… the way he plays, he’s an assassin,” Stephen A. Smith said.

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Diehard Bryant fans immediately took offense to Stephen A. Smith’s bold claim about the 24-year-old being “the next Kobe Bryant.” One fan tweeted, “There won’t be another Kobe Bryant. Devin Booker is Devin Booker.” and others cited various reasons why they believe Booker is not the next Bryant, with several fans pointed out that Booker does not play defense at the level that Bryant did. NBC sports reporter Chase Hughes said any Bryant comparison has to consider his defensive game first.

It is important to remember what Bryant was capable of executing defensively. He would often read the opposing team’s plan before they could execute their play and strip the ball from them before they knew what was happening. Bryant was not afraid to block a center or draw a charge on a frustrated player going full steam down the court – he did what he needed to do to get the ball and get his squad a win.

Bryant is Booker’s mentor, role model, and inspiration, and Booker’s offensive style reflects Bryant’s, particularly his three-point execution. Booker also clearly embodies the Mamba Mentality in his work ethic, but Booker is NOT the next Kobe Bryant. At age 24, this is Booker’s first time playing in the Western Conference Finals, his first playoff appearance, and his first career triple-double. When Bryant was 23 years old, he had won three championships with the Lakers, had three triple-doubles, was a 3-time All-Star, 2-time Second Team All-NBA, First Team All-NBA, 2-time Second Team All-Defense, First Team All-Defense, and was an All-Star Game MVP.

As Booker continues playing in the Western Conference Finals, the comparison between him and his idol places unnecessary pressure on his performance. He controls his own legacy. When Bryant told him “Be Legendary”, he had no doubts about Booker’s basketball career. Booker will be legendary in his own right, but he is not the next Kobe Bryant. There will only ever be one Black Mamba.

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