Russell Westbrook narrates an inspiring story about playing a pick-up game against the late Kobe Bryant during his sophomore year at UCLA.
Russell Westbrook’s admiration for the Black Mamba is no secret. Brodie always considered Kobe as his friend, brother, mentor, and idol. Westbrook’s competitive zeal and hustle draw a lot of parallels to what Kobe as a player was.
When asked Kobe which current NBA player reminded him of himself, Russell Westbrook replied Kobe. The Lakers legend believed Russ imbibed the mamba mentality in his game, fighting for every possession and playing every game as if it’s your last.
Westbrook first met Kobe during the former’s days in UCLA. The 5x champion had come to play pick-up ball at the university and would play a pick-up game against a 16-year old Westbrook. However, Kobe being the assassin, showed no mercy towards the young kid, annihilating him.
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As Westbrook gears up for his Lakers debut this upcoming season, he talks about his relationship with the late Lakers legend on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Russell Westbrook recalls his first meeting with Kobe Bryant
During his recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Westbrook narrated his first meeting with Kobe Bryant as a kid at UCLA. Russ was in his sophomore year at the time.
“It’s one time going into my sophomore season at UCLA and a lot of pick-up games were happening at UCLA. A lot of superstars would come, but this particular day Kobe came and I’m now, I’m super hyped, and I’m super juiced and excited to compete.”
The 2017 MVP added,
“To me, Kobe is the best in the world and I had the opportunity to compete and me, and Kobe you know not going back and forth because he was basically killing me but it’s okay.”
“But the no.1 lesson I got in that is watching him and to this day, I think we all know it as the Mamba Mentality, but when I was younger and watching him, he was competing like it was the Finals.”
It is evident from the above interview that Kobe was the most fierce competitor during his time in the league. Westbrook had on several occasions mentioned Kobe being his idol and how he hopes to be like him one day.
It’s a surreal moment for Westbrook, who is gearing up to make his debut in purple and gold this upcoming season, with the Lakers being one of the favorites to win it all this season.