Scottie Barnes wasn't exactly a certainty to go No. 4 overall in the 2021 NBA draft and there were many questioning the Raptors for picking him over Jalen Suggs. However, he has arguably had the biggest impact of any rookie from his draft class this season, and if not that, he adjusted to the NBA faster than almost all of his peers.
Barnes, who is averaging 15.5 points and over 7 rebounds per game this season, had a massive performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, putting up 31 points and 17 rebounds against LeBron James and his team despite the loss.
Barnes was asked after the game what LeBron meant to him growing up, considering that King James influenced several of today's young athletes, and he had an interesting answer to the question. Even though Scottie did give James his flowers, he explained that he grew up a big fan of Kobe Bryant and not LeBron James.
Reporter: "What did LeBron mean to you, as a kid, before you got into the league?"
Scottie Barnes: "Really, I was a big Kobe fan. So it was really like rivals and stuff like that. But of course, LeBron does so much for this game. Someone that's a Hall of Famer, someone that's so influential in this game that just paves the way for so many people. Be big and athletic, like be my size and dribble the ball, do multiple different things on the floor. So of course, he was influential for a lot of young kids like me."
Kobe Bryant was the most iconic player after Michael Jordan in terms of a fanatical following till LeBron James came into his own in the league. So to hear this from Scottie is no surprise. Bron and Kobe had some epic duels that created amazing memories, like the time they battled it out in 2012, and both have been inspirational to entire generations of basketball players and fans alike.