On Monday’s edition of ESPN’s First Take, Smith and his fellow analysts were discussing Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns. When the subject turned to Suns shooting guard Devin Booker and his superb performance, Smith declared that he is officially “the next Kobe Bryant.”
“Devin Booker… is the next Kobe Bryant,” he said bluntly. “I’m saying it on national television… His first playoff appearance and the brother’s a No. 1 option, averaging over 28, dropped 40 in a triple-double in the Conference Finals. The way he plays, he’s an assassin…”
There’s no denying that Booker put up some very Kobe-esque numbers in Game 1 against the Clippers. 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a 120-114 win is on par with some of Bryant’s greatest playoff performances ever.
And in over 220 playoff games, Kobe never had a triple-double (though he came close on many occasions).
“Devin Booker is the next Kobe Bryant. It is official.”
— First Take (@FirstTake) June 21, 2021
Naturally, there is a lot of disagreement on Twitter about Stephen A. Smith’s proclamation. Many believe it’s inappropriate for Smith to be comparing Booker to the Lakers icon before Booker even makes an NBA Finals appearance.
“The next Kobe Bryant? Before Book has even seen the finals? STOP,” one fan replied.
Others are arguing that Booker should be allowed to become his own person, rather than “the next” somebody else.
“There’s only one Kobe,” one comment says. “Let Booker be Booker and that’s still great, but stop comparing him to the Black Mamba.”
“it’s fair to make a comparison of their game, but there will only ever be one Kobe,” wrote another.
Do you believe that Devin Booker might be the next Kobe Bryant?