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Kobe Bryant’s desire, thirst for knowledge and drive for greatness forms a huge part of his legacy. But it was his willingness to share his knowledge of the game that allows him to live on forever.
NBA fans can take some solace in that in the wake of his tragic death this past Sunday in a helicopter crash, which also took the lives of his daughter and seven other people.
Bryant famously sought out top players for advice. Gary Payton has told a story about a young Bryant seeking tips to become an elite defender during an All-Star Game. Kobe also sought out Hakeem Olajuwon for pointers in the post.
(YouTube link to full clip by Basketadn)
Bryant didn’t just have a thirst to acquire knowledge: He wanted to share his. He spent time with young kids, coached his daughter Gianna’s team and worked with WNBA and NBA players.
Bryant’s game is present on basketball courts all over the world, especially in the NBA.
Kobe’s Early Explosiveness = Zach LaVine’s Current Explosiveness
For a big part of Bryant’s career, he was known as a high-flyer. Anytime a young Bryant drove the lane, centers were in danger of getting posterized. As a rookie in 1996-97, he won the Slam Dunk Contest.
Early in his career, he crosses his defender at the top of the key, a step after the free-throw line, skies in the air and absolutely demolishes Ben Wallace for poster time.
Another center Bryant caught was 7’6″ giant Yao Ming. After blowing by his defender, he drives baseline and catches a rotating Ming with a gorgeous jam.
The NBA is full of explosive dunkers, but Zach LaVine has the ability to get up in the air like Bryant. Just like Bryant, he is a Slam Dunk champion and has caught a few centers as well.
Much like Bryant, if there is a runway for LaVine, it would be best for centers to clear out. First he comes up off a dribble handoff, and before going to the screen, he sees he has a lane to the hoop. He attacks Alex Len, and it doesn’t end well.
Then he catches JaKarr Sampson on a baseline drive, a la Bryant on Yao for the and-1 poster.
Kobe’s Mid-Range Game = DeMar DeRozan’s Mid-Range Game
A large part of Bryant’s career was played before the three-point boom, and he was a master in the mid-range. He got to his spots whenever he wanted. Even if the defender was there, he’d pump-fake, create space and get his shot off.
Many basketball players from the Los Angeles area looked up to Bryant, and DeMar DeRozan was no different. He said as much in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Deantae Prince in June 2017: “I watched every single thing that Kobe did, every game, every move. He made me a student of the game.”
DeRozan still primarily operates out of the mid-range, a less fashionable office in today’s game.
Consider this play against the Chicago Bulls, where DeRozan uses multiple signature Bryant moves. He operates from the wing, gets into the paint, rises over the defender and sinks the jumper.
With the Spurs down two, he drops in this Kobe-esque fade to tie the game.
Years later, DeRozan’s move seems just like Kobe’s go-to shot.
Kobe’s Post-Up Game = Kawhi Leonard’s Post-Up Game
Bryant put the lessons from Olajuwon to good use. Olajuwon had said the following, per Sporting News’ Adi Joseph: “When I watch him play, he’ll go down in the post comfortably, naturally, and he’ll execute it perfectly.” Kobe had developed all the moves in the post, especially as his athleticism slowly began to fade.
Below he puts the moves on LeBron James, executing a beautiful drop step that would make Olajuwon proud.
James, once a victim, would eventually incorporate the willful back-down.
Of course, a big part of Bryant’s post game came from Michael Jordan, who patented the fadeaway jumper. Defenses could not stop it. It was just a question of whether the ball went in.
This was the inspiration for Bryant, who perfected the fadeaway.
Many in the league today have adopted the move, and none have replicated it quite like Kawhi.
He has PJ Tucker on him, and he jab steps a few times before backing him down. Leonard is just setting it up: He then fakes baseline and spins into the fadeaway.
There is a lot of Bryant in Leonard’s game, and it traces back to his San Antonio days when Gregg Popovich and Bryant spoke after a Spurs-Lakers game. Bryant told reporters in February 2016: “[Popovich] wanted me to stay in his ear a little bit and talk to him a little bit. I definitely, definitely, definitely will. I think he has a tremendous amount of potential, and he’s only going to get better. So if I can help him out in that regard, I most certainly will.”
From that time on, there were always reports of Leonard and Bryant working out together, even as recently as this past summer at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy.
(via Mamba Sports Academy)
Kobe’s Footwork = Jayson Tatum’s Footwork
Maybe it came from his Italian upbringing and time on the football pitch. Whatever it was, Bryant easily found ways around defenses with pivots and jab steps.
He spins off Gordon Hayward, and as he gets to the rim, he uses a pump fake on Rudy Gobert before finishing on the other side of the rim. Then there is the pump fake and step-through he used to lose Ray Allen in the NBA Finals. Look familiar?
Much to the chagrin of some Boston Celtics fans, Jayson Tatum worked out with Bryant in the past on multiple occasions. He was even featured on a Detail episode last May.
Kobe’s mentorship of Tatum is apparent in the footwork. Look how similar these moves are: He drives middle on Frank Kaminsky, spins toward the baseline and finishes with a reverse layup. Then he puts a series of moves on Thomas Bryant, where he goes from an in-and-out dribble to a step-through before spinning into a fadeaway.
Yes, a Celtics star has some of the same nuances of a Lakers legend. The basketball gods have a sense of humor. 
Kobe’s Defensive Opportunism = Paul George’s Defensive Opportunism
Bryant took Payton’s tips (see above) to heart, as he was an absolute pest defensively from that point. He made 12 All-Defensive teams throughout his career. It did not matter the situation or the rival: Bryant was up to the challenge.
Watch as Bryant hounds Dwyane Wade as a quarter draws to a close. Wade crosses half court and gets hit with Kobe’s pressure like a snake squeezing air from its prey. The pressure leads to a turnover.
And with the game on the line against James in his first run with the Cavaliers, Bryant matches up with him. Before the ball gets inbounded, Bryant is already keeping a low center of gravity while getting in James’ body. He gives up no ground. James gets the ball, and Bryant gives a strong contest on the pull-up.
Paul George’s defensive style has a lot of similarities. Already a member of four All-Defensive teams, he has the ability to shut down guys in one-on-one situations. George was another player at the invite-only workout at the Mamba Sports Academy this past season, and he had worked out with Bryant in the past, even telling Jimmy Kimmel, “I’m training now to get ready to work out with him.”
George does a great job pressing up on James Harden at half court, never letting him get comfortable and staying with him while giving a good contest on a step-back three that fell short. Then against Bradley Beal, he fights over a series of screens and gives a strong rear contest on his floater.
Kobe Was a Gunner. Devin Booker Is a Gunner. Kyrie Irving Is a Gunner
Make no mistake: Bryant was a gunner. He had no problem taking and making difficult shots over several defenders. He had an incredible knack for it. Two current players fully embody that attitude better than anyone: Devin Booker and Kyrie Irving, and each has ties to Bryant. 
Booker’s rookie year overlapped with Bryant’s retirement tour. Booker idolized him, and he said after playing against him, “It’s just something I will remember for the rest of my life.” After the game, Bryant gifted Booker a pair of signed shoes with the message “Be legendary.”
It’s easy to see the influence Bryant had on Booker’s game. He has no fear in taking tough shots and can knock them down. It doesn’t matter who’s defending; Booker has no problem getting his shot off.
Then there is Irving. After hitting arguably the biggest shot in recent Finals history and winning Cleveland its first NBA title, he wanted to speak with only one person: Bryant. He FaceTimed with him as soon as he got to the locker room to celebrate the championship.
That right there is the definition of the Mamba mentality: fearlessness.