Devin Booker is having a sensational first postseason, as the sixth-year guard has helped lead the Suns to the NBA Finals, where they currently trail 3-2 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Their last two losses haven’t been for a lack of effort from Booker, who has scored 40 or more in back-to-back games, and will look to find the balance between him scoring and keeping his teammates a touch more involved in Game 6 in Milwaukee with the series on the line.
For some, this postseason has been their first extended look at Booker, who prior to this season didn’t see a lot of national TV action due to Phoenix being a bottom-dweller out West. Booker’s shotmaking abilities have been on full display this playoffs, particularly in the midrange and posting up other guards, where he has one of the best turnarounds in basketball today. It’s hard to watch Booker play and not see the impact of Kobe Bryant on him, a player Booker grew up loving and who became a mentor to Devin early in his time in the league.
Booker has spoken about his relationship with Bryant in the past, and the “Be Legendary” comment Kobe gave to Booker that he writes on his shoes before each game is a well-known story. However, that is as far as Booker wants the discussion of he and Kobe to go, as he pushed back on the Kobe comparisons on Monday when asked about them by Richard Jefferson on The Jump.
"I should never be compared to Kobe Bryant."
—Devin Booker pic.twitter.com/hcXFSPLScm
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 19, 2021
The Suns star makes clear that he has never been the one to start those comparisons and seems eager to put a stop to them, as he has such immense respect and love for Kobe that he doesn’t want there to be any confusion about him being “the next” Bryant. The influence of Bryant on Booker’s game is clear, but that’s just how the evolution of basketball works. Booker isn’t trying to be Kobe so much as he’s trying to be the best version of himself, and that involves taking influences from others (which sometimes come in the form of copying a move) and making that into his own.
While this surely won’t stop the Kobe comparisons on social media, it does make his stance clear on them and shows the reverence he has for the late Hall of Famer.