It took him a while but Damian Lillard is finally getting the praise he deserves. He’s emerged as one of the league’s most unstoppable scorers and has a strong chance at becoming the greatest player in Portland Trail Blazers history once it’s all said and done.

Some people doubted his game early on but it seems like Kobe Bryant always knew he was special. In fact, he shared his thoughts about him during his rookie season and went as far as to compare him with a vintage version of himself:

“#vintagevino. Lillard is the real deal #mambasalute,” the Black Mamba tweeted back in 2013.

Bryant didn’t stop there. When asked about Lillard during his rookie year, the legendary shooting guard said: “That boy’s serious. He’s not afraid. 3-Ball, mid-range; the whole package.” Next year, he said that people should vote for Lillard for the All-Star Game instead of him.

 

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Kobe Bryant gave Damian Lillard his flowers in the postgame interview after one of their first meetings AND on Twitter! 🙏 Career 50-PT games: Kobe – 25 Lillard – 10

Una publicación compartida de NBA Buzz (@officialnbabuzz) el

Dame was clearly affected and highly motivated following Bryant’s tragic passing. He was on an impressive scoring run and honored the Black Mamba every night out there, thanking him for being one of his biggest motivators.

He’s currently averaging 29.3 points and 8.0 assists per game and it’s clear that he’s got that Mamba Mentality to overcome adversity, especially in clutch time situations. Last night, he torched the Philadelphia 76ers for 51 points as the Blazers continue to pursue a spot in the playoffs.

The basketball community continues to mourn Kobe’s loss and, while there will never be another Kobe Bryant, it’s quite fulfilling to see his impact and legacy all over the league. Mamba Forever!