Shooting guard Seth Curry of the 76ers has fond memories of, and a special day in common with, the late Kobe Bryant.
With Bryant among nine to be inducted next Saturday into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Curry was asked after Friday’s shootaround what the former Lower Merion High School star and Los Angeles Lakers icon had meant to him and his brother, Steph, while growing up.
“He meant a lot, especially to me specifically because we got the same birthday. So I was always a guy who watched him and looked up to him, and thought that was a cool little nugget growing up, having the same birthday as Kobe,” Curry said.
That date is Aug. 23.
Bryant set the bar high as a five-time NBA champion and an 18-time All-Star.
“As a basketball player and competitor, he laid the blueprint for a lot of us growing up just to watch his work ethic and how seriously he took the game, how he was able to just compete once he stepped on the floor at the highest level,,” said Curry, who enters Friday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans averaging 12.4 points and shooting a team-best 44% from three-point range. “That was just the way he impacted the game with so many people in our generation.”
From somebody who as a youngster admired Bryant, Curry, 30, said getting to spend time with him was a dream come true.
“As he got older and being in the league and being around him, we got to know him more,” Curry said. “He opened up a lot more the last year or two in the league [and] once he retired.”
Curry was among the many players who were able to pick Bryant’s brain about several matters.
“A lot of guys in the league were able to go to him asking questions, learn the way he approached the game, learn his mindset,” Curry said. “He was a lot more generous in giving out that knowledge.”
One encounter in particular with Bryant is something Curry will always remember.
“I remember my second, third year in the league, we were playing a preseason game and saw him at a restaurant in Vegas, and he came and sat down with our team,” Curry said. “It was like four or five of us at the restaurant at the time. He came and sat down with us and talked to us for an hour about what he does to get ready for a game, a season.”
Curry saw Bryant in a different light from the one in which he had been portrayed.
“It was just weird because you hear all these stories growing up about how he didn’t really like anybody, didn’t have any friends in the league, and he kind of changed the way he approached the game, how generous he was to the up-and-coming players to help them out,” Curry said. “So it was really cool.”
Another injury-depleted opponent
The Sixers continue to face teams that are injury-plagued.
New Orleans played the Sixers on Friday without several key players, including its two leading scorers, Zion Williamson (left hand fracture) and Brandon Ingram (left ankle sprain), who combine to average 50.8 points.
Also out were former Villanova star Josh Hart (right thumb surgery) Steven Adams (toe injury) and Nickell Alexander-Walker (left high ankle sprain).
The Sixers had no answer for Williamson in a 101-94 loss on April 9 in New Orleans when he produced 37 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.