Even two years after his passing, the memory of Kobe Bryant still burns brightly among fans and players across the NBA landscape. Among active players, few can claim to be bigger Bryant fans than former Toronto Raptors sensation DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan tried to model large parts of his game after Kobe, as both were expert mid-range snipers with a penchant for passing into the clutch. To date, the Bulls star will lace up Kobe-branded shoes.
On “How hungry are you?” of the Serge Ibaka show, DeRozan was very open about his connection to Bryant. He also managed to sting the bear in one of their one-on-one encounters.
Hot on the heels of hinting that he would have considered a Raptors reunion if Kyle Lowry returned, DeRozan dropped another golden anecdote about what it was like to play against Bryant when his Lakers were truly dominant.
DeRozan claims he decided to ditch his regular Kobe shoes in favor of Jordan when the two faced off. According to DeRozan, Bryant was extremely upset about her wardrobe change. All he did was hit a crushing winner straight to DeRozan’s face as a reward.
Kobe Bryant got one over DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors.
Not only did Kobe hit a game-winning game against Toronto in DeRozan’s rookie season, but he also hit a game-winning jumper in Canada in 2012. DeRozan scored just eight points in that game while Bryant had 27 in of the Lakers victory. As DeRozan came into his own, Kobe was at the peak of his powers.
Be it Chandler Parson Where Shaquille O’Neal, everyone seems to have a Kobe story that remains near and dear to their hearts. This mix of confidence, chatter and mercurial skill made him an absolute pleasure to watch and battle against. His passing left a huge hole in the fabric of the NBA.
Growing up in Southern California and attending USC in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the centerpieces of Toronto’s dominant decade very clearly idolized Bryant during his formative basketball years. This style of play defined a generation of basketball, and its impact is still felt today.
Kobe had some of his most memorable nights of his pro career against the Raptors, including multiple wins and his 81-point outburst that will never be forgotten. The NBA has done an incredible job of keeping Bryant’s memory alive, with players like DeRozan top of mind.