Joel Embiid reveals that Kobe Bryant was his favorite player growing up and says he’s the reason as to why he’s in the NBA today.
Kobe Bryant in the 2000s was the equivalent to Michael Jordan in the 1990s. Players who played in the 2000s and 2010s have said that Kobe was their Jordan in the sense that the Lakers superstar was as dominant as dominant could be. Stars today looked up to Kobe Bryant during their days at college or in high school and modelled their game after him too.
Joel Embiid is no exception as there are flashes of Kobe’s game within Embiid’s as well. Everything from the incredible footwork in the post to leaning away for fadeaways in the mid-range, the Sixers MVP seems to have studied the Black Mamba quite closely.
An incredible trait that Bryant possessed was the fact that he looked to pass down what he learned during his 20-year career in the NBA, down to the next generation. He’s worked out and trained superstars such as Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and of course, Joel Embiid.
Joel Embiid credits Kobe Bryant for his success in the NBA.
In a recent interview with CBSSports, Embiid revealed that he idolized Kobe growing up as the first time he had ever watched an NBA game was one that featured him on the biggest stage of them all: the NBA Finals.
“It was the NBA Finals and it was my first time watching NBA basketball and it happened to be on the Lakers. All I kept hearing about that year was Kobe, and they won that year. That was when I fell in love with basketball and that’s why he became my favorite player. I will say that I’m here because of him.”
Embiid on Kobe:
“Watching the  Finals, that was the turning point of my life. Just watching that Finals & watching Kobe. After watching, I just wanted to be like him. I just wanted to play basketball…he meant a lot for me.”
— Brock Landes (@LandesBrock) May 8, 2021
Embiid has since paid his respects to the late, great Lakers legend by wearing the jersey number 24 following his idol’s passing and eerily dropped 24 on the same night. He also wore custom Kobes on January 28th of this year which featured both Bryant and his daughter Gigi.
It’s safe to say that Kobe Bryant’s legacy will live on forever, both on the court because of players such as Joel Embiid practicing his ‘Mamba Mentality’ and off the court, in the rafters, with no. 8 and no. 24 hanging in Staples Center.