As we continue to mourn Kobe Bryant’s untimely passing, let’s revisit the comparison he made regarding Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook and himself.
As we all know, NBA legend and all-time great Kobe Bryant tragically passed away on Sunday, which was a devastating loss for all of us. The Black Mamba appeared to be enjoying his second life post-retirement and was simply gone far too soon. On the court, Kobe had many grueling battles with the Houston Rockets and constantly proved to be too much for the Rockets to handle.
After retiring, the Black Mamba joined the Hollywood Reporter’s Award Chatter podcast and said Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook is the modern-day athlete that most reminds him of himself. Was this an accurate comparison? It’s easy to understand why Kobe made the comparison to Westbrook, who was born and raised in southern California himself. Like Kobe, Westbrook has two scoring titles and an MVP award on his resume.
In addition, Westbrook plays with an unstoppable level of intensity like the Black Mamba and has never backed down from any player or situation. On top of that, both players showed the ability to be successful in spite of playing without superstars such as Kevin Durant and Shaquille O’Neal, with Kobe winning multiple championships after Kobe and Shaq split up.
Westbrook won the MVP and led the league in scoring for the second time after Durant travelled west to join the Golden State Warriors. On top of that, Westbrook single-handedly carried the Oklahoma City Thunder to playoffs after KD left, despite not having an other All-Stars on the team.
Kobe manned that challenge and took it upon himself to prove to the world that he didn’t need Shaq, similar to how Westbrook illustrated the Mamba mentality following the departure of KD.
There are also other comparisons, as neither player would be described as a fit within the modern day advanced analytical basketball world that exists. Kobe had no problem with attempting 40 field goals if it led his team to victory, much like The Brodie. Kobe would also have the confidence to take the most important shot regardless of how many he missed throughout the game, much like Westbrook.
Kobe also had the ability to take over games down the stretch and lived for winning time, much like how Westbrook has embraced the same moments and has illustrated the same ability to dominate, which the Houston Rockets have especially seen lately. Although Kobe was referencing the similarities on the court, there are also comparisons that extend off the court as well.
Off the court, both men care/cared about their families and were also proud dads, which is far more meaningful than anything that could ever be done on the hardwood. Kobe always spoke about his kids and was constantly posting them on social media, much like how Westbrook does with his family.
On top of that, both men displayed themselves to be charitable, as we’ve heard constant narratives and tales about Kobe’s willingness to help others, which was shown in part by him building the Mamba Academy, which he was ultimately heading to during his final moments. We’ve also heard tales about Kobe offering encouragement to a Lakers fan whose mother was diagnosed with cancer, and it doesn’t stop there.
We’ve also heard about how Kobe would proudly brag about his daughters and how he happily stated that he would have more girls without any hesitation, as told beautifully by ESPN’s Elle Duncan.
Westbrook also launched the Westbrook Brownstein Green Tech program, which was aimed at helping at-risk youths develop computer literacy skills to help them better their lives long-term. We’ve also heard countless good deeds Westbrook has done such as buying a car for a struggling single mother and providing Thanksgiving meals for families in both his hometown of Los Angeles as well as families in Houston.
To be clear, this is certainly not a comparison of who was the better individual off the court, as it’s a blessing for the world to have great humanitarians and fathers like Kobe and Westbrook. It just so happens that we also had the luxury of being able to witness their athletic abilities on the basketball court in the same span of time.
When examining whether Kobe was right in comparing Westbrook to himself, the similarities only begin on the court, as both illustrated the Mamba mentality. But off the court both men were each MVPs that made their communities better, and that’s what ultimately matters more than anything else. We will always miss everyone that died in the helicopter he was riding in and it’s an honor to have someone Westbrook in the city of Houston.