While not universally accepted, many consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest player of all-time. Many players coming into the league these days, however, were too young to see Jordan play in his prime and grew up watching players like Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson.
Los Angeles Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell was one of those players, telling Sirius XM NBA Radio that Kobe was his Michael Jordan growing up:
He was my Michael Jordan. I didn’t grow up watching Michael Jordan. I didn’t grow up watching Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, Larry Bird, I didn’t get to watch those dudes. So when I was growing up it was Kobe, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, those dudes, so to get the opportunity to play with him for his last years is a highlight of my life definitely.
The thought process makes sense as Russell was born in 1996 and thus was far too young to see Jordan. His prime years, like many others, were spent watching superstars like Kobe, Iverson, and McGrady so it makes sense that Kobe is Jordan.
Russell now gets the chance to learn from Kobe and he would be wise to take advantage of all of the knowledge Kobe has to offer. He has a long way to go, but picking things up from one of the greatest ever will accelerate his learning curve.
Hopefully Russell will wind up becoming the player that the Lakers believe he can become and working with Kobe will help him get there.