All-Stars on Kobe’s impact and their favorite memories – ESPN

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All eyes will be on Kobe Bryant for his 18th and final All-Star Game on Sunday. For many of those who will share the stage with him, it will be an unforgettable moment. Here’s what some of this year’s All-Stars recently had to say about the Lakers star, who is retiring at the end of the season.

On Kobe’s impact:

Paul George, Pacers forward: He’s going to go down as one of the best to ever play the game. He was just fearless. He’s a champion. To get to where you want to get to, you have to put the work in. His work ethic is one thing that he has. That’s the reason why he’s so great.

John Wall, Wizards guard: Basically the Michael Jordan of our era is what I see with all of his dedication to the game, his competitive drive. He’s one of those guys that always wants the ball in a tough situation. No matter the circumstances, he believes in himself, no matter what.

Chris Bosh, Heat forward: He’s one of the greatest iconic players this league has ever had. He’s had such an imprint on our childhood. I know he had an imprint on my childhood.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder guard: Me growing up in Los Angeles and being able to see Kobe, obviously he’s one of the greatest players to play the game. It was a true honor to be able to learn from him. It’s a great experience to be able to learn different things from him, not just on the floor but off the floor as well.

DeMar DeRozan, Raptors guard: I grew up watching the Lakers. I grew up watching him his whole career and getting a chance to have a relationship with him and kind of, you know, patterned my game after him so to speak, so definitely speaks volumes.

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics guard: I was brainwashed to be a Lakers fan when I was young, so I grew up on Kobe Bryant and he was my favorite player.

James Harden, Rockets guard: He’s been my idol growing up, my basketball idol. Just watching him play meant everything to me. So this is his last year and he’s going to retire and there’s going to be no more Kobe Bryant playing basketball, it’s kind of sad. It’s kind of sad about that, but at some point he had to go.

Draymond Green, Warriors forward: He’s meant so much to the game. Growing up in the era that I did, Kobe was that guy. So to play in an All-Star Game with him, I mean, that’s special. I grew up a Kobe fan, so it’s something that’s really special.


On favorite Kobe memories:

Tyronn Lue, Cavs coach and former Lakers teammate: Just seeing the film he watched all the time, the players he was talking about, the Oscar Robertsons, Michael Jordans, the Magics, he knew from day one who he wanted to be like. He knew that to be the best, you had to work hard. That’s what he did every single day. Not one day did I see him take off.

Lue: Every time we got a new player who came to our team, like Glen Rice and J.R. Rider and those guys, he would always play them one-on-one and let them know like “this is my territory.” The first time he played J.R. Rider, he beat him 12-0, and J.R. Rider wanted to play every single day [after that]. It was just crazy.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs forward: I think probably one of the moments that would stick out to me, we’re playing in L.A. and I think he got 62 [Editor’s note: It was 65 points], I don’t know what it was, [when I was] in Portland. And we were just trapping him and he was taking shots over two or three guys and knocking them down. I think that’s when I got to see firsthand how good he was.

Kevin Durant, Thunder forward: I always tell people the first time I played against him was probably the funnest. Coming off a back-to-back in Portland, when I was in Seattle. He came into Seattle, took 44 shots.

That was before they had Pau, and all those guys. Kwame Brown was still on the team and they were trying to trade and get a championship-caliber team, so he had to take a lot of shots. He came in and took 44 of them on the second night of a back-to-back, had 48, hit the game-winner and it was just like, “This guy’s a machine.” It’s hard to do that. That’s probably my fondest memory.

LeBron James, Cavs forward: I think my most fond moment is he gave me his shoes when I was in high school. I think I was playing in a tournament in Teaneck, New Jersey, and they were playing in the [2002] All-Star Game in Philly. And I had an opportunity to go meet him, and he gave me a pair of his shoes, and I actually wore them in a game against Oak Hill, against Melo [Carmelo Anthony], actually. So, six degrees of separation right there.

Bosh: Just being able to hang out with him and see people’s reactions to him. That was like the coolest thing when I was in the Olympics. People love Kobe Bryant. To see him walk down the hallway and see people’s reactions, you can see it in their eyes how much they love him.


On Kobe’s last All-Star Game:

Durant: It means a lot to be a part of that. We definitely want to send him off on a good note. We know he’s going to be super-competitive. This is the last time he’s going to be with all these elite players and on the court again. So it should be fun, man.

Dwyane Wade, Heat guard: I think for him in the end it will be, first of all, very gratifying and a little emotional, a little tiring because of everybody wanting a piece of him as well. But I think it’s great for our game to celebrate him at this time. So it’s cool.

I think everybody’s going to want to go one-on-one and have their Kobe Bryant moment. So whenever he gets a guy one-on-one that the crowd is going to love, they’re going to cheer and get up and yell. He’s going to have that moment. And on the other end as well. He’s a competitor. Still, at 37, he’s picking up 94 feet sometimes when you watch the Lakers play.

DeRozan: It’s going to be big for me personally. Going out in something that’s going to be in the history books and being a part of it in your hometown, it’s definitely going to be big.

Pau Gasol, Bulls forward: It should be more of a celebration about what he’s given to the game and all his accomplishments. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it. It’s going to be emotional for me to see him. I hope he enjoys it. It’s always fun to see him and to share this moment with him, this last dance with him.

Anthony Davis, Pelicans forward: Anytime I’m on the floor and Kobe’s on the floor and he asks for the ball, I’m giving it to him.

All-Stars on Kobe’s impact and their favorite memories – ESPN

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