Not Again! | The Last Time Stephen A. Smith Compared Devin Booker To The Late, Great Kobe Bryant Booker Disappeared In The Playoffs

Phoenix Suns shooting guard has always been a unique talent. From his feathery shooting touch to his immaculate footwork, “Book,” as he’s affectionately known, has the entire offensive package. But never before has the former Kentucky Wildcats star put it all on display like he has thus far in the 2023 NBA playoffs. 

Booker has been on a tear through nine playoff games, averaging 28 points, five assists and five rebounds per game on 50 percent shooting. But it’s what he’s done the past couple of games versus the top-seeded Denver Nuggets that’s the talk of the postseason so far. With his team trailing the Nuggets 2-0 heading home, Booker went off, going for a combined 83 points, 21 assists and 12 rebounds in two wins. But it’s how efficiently he did it, on 78 percent shooting (34-43), that is a true testament to Booker’s work ethic and dedication to his craft. 

Stephen A. Smith Lauds Booker’s Play

Book has been so good lately he’s even got ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith dubbing him the “light-skinned Mamba.” 

During his “Know Mercy” podcast on Monday, Smith went there and pretty much compared the supremely talented Booker to a hoops legend, Kobe Bryant. 

“I’ve been thinking about Kobe Bryant a lot lately. And you know what they say, the greatest compliment in the world is imitation. And when I look at this brother Devin Booker it’s the light-skinned Mamba. That’s right, that’s what I’m calling him, because he’s that kind of dude. It’s appropriate to have the conversation about how gifted and great this brother is, what he brings to the table.”

Smith says this conversation is appropriate, but is it really? He’s not speaking of just any ole body, he’s comparing Booker to one on the greatest players we’ve ever seen grace the hardwood. 

Not So Fast, SAS, We’ve Seen This Movie Before

There’s no question as to how great Booker is playing, and he’s deserving of the praise being heaped upon him. But we must remember that this wasn’t happening until the new Suns owner Matt Ishbia, who’s under the gun for Sunday’s altercation with Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, came in and mortgaged his team’s future to trade for Kevin Durant. So in essence a huge reason for Booker’s success is because of the attention the great KD is demanding. 

That in turn has allowed him much more space to operate, and with Durant being as selfless as he is, it’s allowed Booker even more of a green light, so to speak. 

Smith made the mistake of calling Booker the next Kobe Bryant in 2021 following a Western Conference Finals Game 1 win over the Kawhi Leonard-less Los Angeles Clippers. And while the Suns advanced to the NBA Finals that season, they also blew a 2-0 series lead to the Milwaukee Bucks, losing in six games. 

Smith’s tune even changed since the Suns ousted an injured Clippers team in five games. He once referred the Suns as full of star power, but he didn’t really seem to believe in their long-term projections until KD arrived. And that’s when Booker took off. 

So let’s proceed with caution. Although Booker is the best shooting guard in the NBA, he’s no Kobe Bryant. 

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