“Kobe is the guy for me. The skill set, the mentality, the athleticism, the will…surgical. He’s the guy”
– Fred VanVleet on who he considers the best player ever.
— Ball Don't Stop (@balldontstop) October 4, 2022
VanVleet never got to play against Bryant, as the Lakers legend retired the season before VanVleet broke into the league with the Raptors.
Still, he picked Bryant over LeBron James and Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever, which is a massive honor.
Over his storied NBA career, Bryant was named to 18 All-Star teams and won two scoring titles. He was a five-time NBA champion and won the NBA Finals MVP award two times.
During his playing career, Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from beyond the arc. He will forever be one of the most important figures in Lakers history, as he led the team to tremendous success, winning five NBA titles.
It’s interesting how players from different eras have differing opinions on who the greatest player in NBA history is. While VanVleet has competed against James in his career, it was his childhood memories of Bryant that outweighed James’ play when deciding his G.O.A.T.
This isn’t the first time that VanVleet has shown his love for Bryant. He went on the “All the Smoke” podcast last November to explain how he fell in love with Bryant and the Lakers.
“I was five years old when I first started really playing. My dad was a hooper,” VanVleet said. “My first memory was a Lakers-Sixers (Philadelphia 76ers) finals. I was a little boy. I just fell in love with Kob and fell in love with the Lakers.”
VanVleet, who won a championship with the Raptors in the 2018-19 season, is now looking to forge his own legacy in the NBA.
With Bryant passing away in a tragic helicopter accident back in 2020, players that looked up to him have kept his legacy alive with stories such as VanVleet’s. There’s no doubt that the Lakers legend had a tremendous impact on the game of basketball and will likely always be considered as one of the league’s greatest players.