Among the current NBA players, DeMar DeRozan is the closest we have to Kobe Bryant. The ‘Black Mamba’ was DeRozan’s idol, and he based his game around him. He also wore his shoes because of his admiration for Kobe.
During a recent conversation with Matt Barnes, DeRozan spoke about an interesting incident with Kobe. He was facing Bryant’s Lakers and decided to not wear Kobes like he always did. He said, “Vince was like ‘you’re not supposed to wear an opponent’s shoe!’ So next time I played Kob, I wore some Jordans.
“As soon as I walked on the court, Kob was like ‘Oh that’s what we’re doing, motherf**cker.’ He didn’t say anything to me the rest of the game. After the game when I spoke to him, I was like ‘damn my bad.’ We went into a whole conversation.
“That’s when the whole Team Mamba started coming about. (Kobe said) ‘We gonna start this whole Mamba thing, you gonna be the one that kicks it off with the shoes and all.’ Since then, I just ran off with it.”
PJ Tucker once revealed that DeMar has the best Kobe shoe collection. Although Tucker is the ultimate sneaker king, this is not surprising. DeMar has always been about his love for Kobe, and this is a prime example of that.
In September, Nike launched the DeMar DeRozan Kobe V Protro PE in collaboration with the Spurs star. He unveiled it on Manu Ginobili’s jersey retirement night. “It’s going to be up there with Jordan,” DeRozan said while talking about the Kobe’s shoe legacy. “His legacy, how he changed the game of footwear just like Jordan did before, taking the shoe game to a whole different level.”
His love for Kobe began since he was a kid. He grew up in LA and watched Kobe tear up the NBA. Earlier in the interview, DeRozan talks about how he only had one channel available on TV, which telecast the Lakers games. He drew inspiration from watching Bryant, and aimed to become like him.
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