Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker has made it no secret that he considers the late Kobe Bryant to be one of his biggest idols. Many believe that Booker’s game has been patterned after the Los Angeles Lakers legend. And it has truly been on full display this season as Booker has helped lead the Suns to a stellar campaign.
But their style of play isn’t the only thing Kobe and D-Book have in common. As a matter of fact, we were able to dig up six interesting facts that eerily connect the careers and lives of the two shooting guards.
June 26, 1996 was a momentous date in NBA history. This was the day Kobe officially entered the league, being selected 13th overall in what turned out to be one of the greatest NBA Draft classes of all time. A few months later, October 30, 1996 to be exact, Devin Armani Booker was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is quite a coincidence that Kobe was drafted in the same year that Booker was born.
Lucky Number 13
As mentioned earlier, Kobe was taken 13th overall in 1996. By the way, it was the Charlotte Hornets who plucked Kobe off the draft board but quickly dealt him to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac.
Anyway, care to take a wild guess as to what number Booker got drafted at when it was his time to enter the NBA? Yup, you got that right, 13th overall in 2015. The Suns drafted him out of Kentucky and he has blossomed into an All-Star.
Basketball runs in the family for both Kobe and Book. As a matter of fact, both of their fathers played in the NBA.
Joe Bryant started his NBA journey as the 13th overall pick (hey, look at that) in 1975. He spent the first four years of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers before being dealt to the San Diego Clippers in 1979. In 1982, the 6-foot-9 forward was on the move again. He had a one-year stint with the Houston Rockets, which marked the end of his eight-year NBA career. Jellybean finished with career averages of 8.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
Meanwhile, 6-foot-1 point guard Melvin Booker, father of Devin, had a less impactful career in the NBA. He played for three different teams in two years in the league, which also included Joe Bryant’s last team in the Rockets. All in all, Melvin played in just 32 games in the NBA, averaging 5.2 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.
Clearly, both Kobe and Devin have the edge here over their dads in terms of their NBA careers.
Kobe Bryant is widely regarded as one of the greatest shooting guards in the history of the NBA. For his part, Booker also hopes to follow in the footsteps of his idol. Like Kobe, Book occupies the two-guard position. Also like Kobe, Booker is 6-foot-6.
Throughout the history of the NBA, only three guards have managed to score over 70 points in a single game. You probably guessed that Kobe and Booker are two of the guys on the esteemed list.
The Black Mamba achieved the awe-inspiring feat on January 22, 2006, when he torched the Toronto Raptors for a career-high 81 points on 28-of-46 shooting. For his part, Booker set his career-best mark 11 years later on March 24, 2017. He dropped 70 points against the Boston Celtics in what was easily the best individual performance of Booker’s career thus far.
The only other guard who has scored over 70 points in a game is the great David Thompson, who himself logged 73 points against the Detroit Pistons in 1978.
Not even the GOAT, Michael Jordan, eclipsed the 70-point mark in his decorated career, with MJ settling for 69 as his career-high.
Passing the Torch
Unfortunately for Booker, he was not able to share the floor with his idol for long. Kobe retired at the end of the 2015-16 campaign, which happened to be Booker’s rookie year.
On March 23, 2016, after a matchup between the Lakers and Suns, they had a memorable encounter in the locker room. Kobe handed Booker a pair of signed Kobe 11s, on which the Lakers great inscribed an epic message: “Be legendary.”
Almost one year to the day, on March 24, 2017, Booker went on to make his mark in the NBA history books by being the youngest player to ever hit the 70-point mark at just 20 years of age. Way to live up to Kobe’s legendary challenge.
Now, Booker is looking to lead the Suns to greater heights and further embody Kobe’s competitive mentality. With ample support surrounding him with the likes of Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges, Devin Booker can surely continue his ascent. And for sure, Kobe Bryant will be smiling up there.