A Year After Joining Idol Kobe Bryant in an Elite 4-Man List, Stephen Curry’s Teammate Reminisces Meeting the Lakers Legend: “He Called My Name”

Published 09/09/2023, 12:23 PM EDT

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Kobe Bryant has indelibly etched his legacy into the annals of the NBA. He has left an everlasting impact on devoted fans and the athletes who grace the hardwood. Even after his tragic passing, Kobe’s name continues to serve its purpose of inspiring the generations that follow. Every athlete’s journey commences with a dream and an idol, and with Golden State Warriors’ rising star Jonathan Kuminga, Kobe’s influence shines brightly.

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In 2021, Kuminga was chosen as the seventh pick by the Warriors. Like his idol, the legendary Kobe Bryant, Kuminga made his NBA debut during his teenage years. His remarkable athleticism and potential convinced the Warriors to select him. Just as Kobe inspired countless with his prowess, Kuminga now carries the torch of inspiration for a new era.

Jonathan Kuminga opens up on meeting Kobe Bryant

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In a recent interview with Robert Marawa on 947 Joburg, Kuminga bared his soul. He reveals the influence of Kobe Bryant behind his ignited passion for basketball. Marawa, quick on the draw, seized the opportunity to inquire if Kuminga had ever had the privilege of meeting Kobe in person. To this, Kuminga shared an incredible story, “Kyrie Irving was like my mentor in high school, Kyrie Irving,” Kuminga began, painting a vivid picture of his journey. “We went to his game when I was in high school. And right after the game we went to the tunnel. And we end up see Kobe come out. I always dreamed to meet Kobe. He saw me from far because I was a high-ranked kid in highschool at the time. I was surprised.” 

Kuminga further stated that Bryant had called out his name. “I was like, Are you serious? Is Kobe calling my name right now?” he recalled his excitement.

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Kuminga also revealed that Kobe was all game to help Kuminga better his game for the NBA. However, the infamous tragedy occurred days after the two connected.

Kuminga joined Kobe in a 4-man list

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In a thrilling May 2022 showdown, the Golden State Warriors were locked in a fierce battle. They were in a late-game pursuit to narrow a substantial lead held by the Dallas Mavericks. In this high-stakes contest, the dynamic duo of Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody left an indelible mark on both ends of the court.

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Kuminga, in particular, delivered a standout performance that would be hailed as his best in the postseason. From his position on the bench, he unleashed a 17-point barrage. In doing so, Kuminga etched his name alongside Kobe Bryant in an exclusive club. Kuminga now shares a spot on a prestigious four-person list of players who have notched 15 points or more in playoff games as teenagers.

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Even though the feat is not worthy of an award, it indicates Kuminga’s potential. The other two illustrious elite group members are Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony. So far, all the players on the list have marked their names in the league for decades.  

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Written by:

Saahil Dhillan

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Saahil Dhillan is an NBA Writer at Essentially Sports. He has been writing articles and blogs for 5 years now, including those for a sports brand that manufactures knee braces, for a Red Bull athlete in 2019 and for a documentary of an Ultra Running Coach in 2021. There’s plenty Saahil can write about why he likes basketball, having followed the NBA for more than 10 years, but he is most keen on picking out various offense/defense strategies, on/off-court decisions, roster changes in crunch time and other underrated key elements that leave an impact on the scoreboard.
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Edited by:

Saumya Khanduja

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