As a part of Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour around the country, the five-time NBA champion usually hands off a signed pair of his game-worn shoes to a lucky player on the other team.
Most of the time, that player is a veteran like Tony Allen, LeBron James or Paul George, but on Wednesday, Kobe’s shoes went to a rookie.
According to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic, Bryant’s signed shoes were given to Phoenix Suns rookie Devin Booker with a message the first-year player will likely cherish forever:
— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) March 24, 2016
As one of the many NBA-bound rookies from last year’s talented Kentucky squad, Booker has surprised a lot of people in his rookie campaign. Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein may have dominated the headlines of rookie class out of Kentucky, but Booker has been a pleasant surprise for Phoenix and has obviously caught Kobe’s eye in the process.
The former Wildcat gave the Lakers a lot of problems on Wednesday night with the rookie pouring in a game-high 28 points to lead the Suns to victory over their division rivals. Fellow rookie and friend of Booker’s, D’Angelo Russell, couldn’t keep up finishing with 14 points and three assists.
With the Lakers final matchup with the Suns officially in the books, the team will head back to Los Angeles in order to face another promising rookie guard on Friday night. The Denver Nuggets will be coming to town with Emmanuel Mudiay set to go head-to-head with Russell in their final rookie showdown of the season.