Paul George: Kobe Bryant was my Michael Jordan

Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant served as a Michael-Jordan level idol for Paul George while the young star was growing up watching basketball.
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

By David Kenyon

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant announced on Sunday that the 2015-16 NBA season will be his final year, meaning the inspiration of a generation is retiring from the game.

According to Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star, Kobe was that player to Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George like Michael Jordan was to Kobe’s era. George said:

“Kobe was my Jordan. Watching him win championships, I remember being at home just watching the games with my mom, my grandma and my dad and just idolizing him.”

George continued, clarifying that he wasn’t comparing who is the better player between Kobe and Jordan, rather noting the personal impact:

“I’m not saying he’s better than Jordan. But to me growing up, that’s who I idolized.”

Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, there’s nothing really left to idolize about the future Hall of Famer’s game.

In fact, George stole the show after Bryant’s announcement, pouring in a game-best 39 points during Indiana’s 107-103 victory over the Lakers on Sunday.

Bryant, on the other hand, shot 4-of-20 from the field and finished with 13 points—which is merely one basket below his season average. It was the continuation of a season-long trend, since Kobe has posted a 30.5 percent shooting mark overall and a 20.2 clip from three-point range.

Age has clearly caught the 37-year-old Bryant, but he’ll continue to serve as a basketball icon even beyond his retirement—especially for the players remaining in the league who idolized him growing up.

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