Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has inspired legions of basketball players. The five-time world champion’s competitive spirit, the “Mamba Mentality”, has inspired past, present and future NBA players.
Appearing on The Draymond Green Show podcast, 76ers center Joel Embiid revealed the profound impact Kobe has had on his life.
“Kobe is the reason I started playing basketball.”
Embiid recalled how watching Kobe in the NBA Finals as a teenager inspired the 76ers superstar center to start playing basketball.
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“I was like 14 and I was watching the Finals. Lakers vs. Boston. It was my first time watching NBA basketball. Kobe was killing him and I was like, fuck, I want to be like him. This is crazy .”
Back then, Embiid played volleyball and football as a child in Cameroon. Watching Kobe battle against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals helped convince a young Embiid that basketball might be the sport for him.
In that series, Bryant averaged 28.6 points per game and played 41.2 minutes per game. He only shot 40.5% from the field, but in typical Kobe fashion, the Hall of Famer continued to cringe when shots weren’t falling. Bryant is averaging 8.5 free throw attempts and 8 rebounds per game.
Embiid never had the chance to play against Kobe. The five-time All-Star was sidelined with a foot injury during Bryant’s final two years in the NBA.
Embiid’s story only reinforces the fact that Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a national icon. The 15-time All-NBA guard has been an inspiration to the world.