How Kobe Bryant postgame moment told Klay Thompson he belonged in NBA

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Postgame moment with Kobe told Klay he belonged in NBA originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Like many NBA stars, Klay Thompson grew up idolizing late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Early in his NBA career, the Warriors star desperately wanted Bryant to recognize his potential and talent. During their first meeting as NBA players, Bryant scored 39 on the Warriors at Staples Center in a game that's forever etched in Thompson's memory.

“I’ll never forget that stat line: I went 6-for-8, 14 points, with just the hope that he noticed that I was a good player,” Thompson told The Los Angeles Times' Dan Woike.

But it was a 2014 matchup between the soon-to-be dynastic Warriors and the Lakers when Thompson truly made an impression on Bryant. The Warriors star scored 41 points on the Lakers at Oracle Arena. It's a key moment in Thompson's NBA journey, one he still looks back on to this day.

“I couldn’t believe it. ‘Wow, I had 40 on the Lakers and against my idol?’ It was incredible,” Thompson told Woike. “I still watch that highlight all the time for motivation. And then to see postgame, for him to come over and dap me up, I remember it like it was yesterday.”

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Thompson doesn't remember what Bryant said to him, just that the moment his childhood idol showed him love was the moment he knew he belonged.

“I was so star-struck that he was giving me props,” Thompson said. "That was my real moment when I knew I was going to be a player in this league.”

Bryant, who tragically died along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in January of 2020, will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend alongside Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.

Bryant's wife Vanessa and Michael Jordan are slated to speak for the late star, and Thompson surely will be watching as his hero is forever immortalized in the halls the Warriors star will one day join him in.

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