Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker looked up to Kobe Bryant, but he doesn't want to put himself in the same conversation as the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
During ESPN's The Jump on Monday, Richard Jefferson asked Booker about a comparison to Bryant, to which the two-time All-Star said he "should never be compared to Kobe Bryant."
Toward the end of his career and into retirement, Bryant worked with players throughout the league to impart his wisdom and offer guidance.
Booker was only a rookie during the 2015-16 season when he received an autographed pair of sneakers from the Hall of Famer that included a message to "be legendary."
"The biggest thing for me was earning his respect," Booker told reporters of Bryant after Bryant's death in January 2020. "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. 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."
The 24-year-old has been marvelous during Phoenix's run to the NBA Finals, averaging 27.7 points on 45.1 percent shooting through 21 playoff games.
The Suns closed out the Lakers in the first round thanks in large part to a 47-point effort from Booker in Game 6. He said after the game he felt Bryant's presence inside Staples Center while he was shredding Los Angeles' defense:
Booker has always been considered a dynamic scorer, but one question was how much his production translated into wins for the Suns. His famous 70-point game in March 2017 came in a 10-point loss to the Boston Celtics. He dropped 59 on the Utah Jazz in March 2019, but Phoenix still lost by 33.
This postseason is addressing that general skepticism head on, and now the conversation has shifted to how the Suns might be set up to contend for years to come.
But putting Booker alongside Bryant is far too early at this point in his career, regardless of their connection. The latter was an 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion, a resume that will be difficult to match.