Not since Kobe Bryant’s famous 81-point outburst against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 had anyone broke the 70-point mark in the NBA. On Friday night, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker put an end to that streak with a Mamba-like performance of his own.
Booker exploded for 70 points, albeit it in a loss to the Boston Celtics, going 21-40 from the field and a ridiculous 24-26 from the free throw line. From mid-range pull-ups to 3-pointers off screens to a collection of and-ones off drives to the basket, the 20-year-old Booker was relentless, much to the delight of the Suns bench and the Celtics crowd, who stuck around to watch Booker’s performance despite the Celtics leading by 20 points for much of the game.
As it turns out, the spirit of Kobe Bryant hovered over Booker for much of the game. In the locker room afterwards, Booker told reporters that a specific interview with Bryant has always stuck with him, and it played a big part in Booker pushing himself to score as many points as possible on Friday night.
“I’ve seen an interview with Kobe where he said what separated him from a lot of people, he thought everyone thought 30 points was a lot,” Booker said. “He said he never set himself with a limit. And that always sticks in my head. He said he’d score 100 if he could. So the most I can get, I don’t want no limit on my game.”
Is that Booker talking, or Kobe? It’s clear how much Bryant’s approach to the game of basketball has influenced Booker, so he must’ve been thrilled when Bryant showed the young Suns star some love in a tweet late last night.
Even wilder? During Bryant’s stop in Phoenix last season during his retirmenet tour, he signed a pair of his shoes for Booker, with “Be legendary” scrawled out next to his signature.
The Suns are still building, with a young coach and a historically young roster. But they appear to have their superstar, whose hoops philosophy is grounded in the tao of Kobe Bryant. And that has to have Suns fans ecstatic.
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