After making history Friday, Devin Booker had to give Kobe Bryant had a shoutout. The Phoenix Suns guard told reporters that he had the confidence to because he learned from Kobe Bryant not to put any limits on himself.
“I seen an interview with Kobe; he said what separated him from a lot of people was everyone thought 30 points was a lot,” Booker said, via Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “He said he never set himself a limit, and that always sticks in my head. He said he’d score 100 if he could. So he never had a limit, I don’t put a limit on anything. I want to be the best in life. In all parts in life, not just basketball.”
It’s fitting that Booker credited Bryant after the highest-scoring performance since Bryant’s 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006. It’s also not exactly an accident. Last season, Bryant not only gave Booker a pair of shoes and wrote “Be Legendary” on them, but he chatted with the then-rookie for about 10 minutes after the Suns and Lakers met and praised him to reporters, via Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
“I mean he went straight to my move the first time he caught it,” Bryant said with amusement after the game. “You’re not going to beat me on my move, man. But it was great to see. It was absolutely great to see because I remember I did the same thing to MJ.”
“I think he’s fantastic,” Bryant said. “I think he has the right attitude. He has the right competitive spirit. I think his footwork is extremely sound. His fundamentals are extremely sound. Now, it’s just about him figuring out exactly what his game is and then he can go to that every single night and then make counters off of it but he has the skills.”
“He has more knowledge than me so he was just spilling it to me,” Booker said. “I was just open ears to him, trying to be a sponge. I’m happy with what I’ve got out of it. It was just something that I remember the rest of my life that I can tell my kids about.”
Bryant, then, knew how meaningful it would be to acknowledge Booker’s brilliance on Friday:
If you go back and, it was pretty Kobe-ish. Like Bryant when he was in a zone, Booker got wherever he wanted, kept defenders on edge and rose for jumpers that looked incredibly easy for him. He told reporters that it felt like he was in a gym by himself, which makes sense -- it looked like he was playing at a different pace than everybody else. Booker also made some extremely tough shots and got to the line at will. Bryant is surely proud.