(Barry Gossage/Getty Images)
Kobe Signs Shoes for Booker
Born just four days before Kobe Bryant's NBA debut, Phoenix's Devin Booker grew up idolizing the superstar Laker.
The 19-year-old rookie made sure to impress his hero in their lone matchup against one another, dropping 28 points in the Suns' victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday. Afterward, Bryant made sure to give him a sign of his respect.
The two chatted for about 15-20 minutes, and Bryant autographed a pair of white Nike Kobe 11 shoes with the message "To Book Be Legendary" on one sneaker and "To The Young Gun!" on the other."
He also inked his signature on the game's program, which featured both players on the cover.
Booker called the meeting "something I will remember for the rest of my life and I can tell my kids about."
The day before, Bryant gifted a similar pair of kicks to Memphis' Tony Allen, who — like Booker — had a monster game in his last meeting with Bryant, scoring 27 points while hitting all 12 of his shots.
For Allen, Bryant continued to bestow upon him an impressive title, writing, "To Tony, the Best defender I ever faced!"
But it hasn't only been basketball players trying to catch Bryant for the final time. After Wednesday's game in Phoenix, the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald met up with the NBA icon, as did MLB stars like Mike Trout and Matt Kemp, who were in town for spring training.
Bryant relayed that players from other sports have wanted to express their gratitude for the way he has approached his career as an athlete.
“When I talk to them, they all just say, ‘Thank you for the mentality,’” Bryant said. “They understand as athletes that it’s not easy being that (way). For me, it’s natural. For them, they look at that and they appreciate that and want to embody that and carry it forward.”