Devin Booker says he felt Kobe Bryant’s presence in Staples Center as Suns eliminated Lakers

Devin Booker had a closer’s mentality Thursday night as he led the Suns to a series-clinching Game 6 win over the Lakers in LA.

The Phoenix guard played 46 minutes and finished with a game-high 47 points in his team’s 113-100 victory. He was 15 for 22 from the floor (8 for 10 on 3-pointers).

MORE: NBA Twitter criticizes Lakers for clearing Anthony Davis to play Game 6

After he and his team ended the Lakers’ championship reign once and for all, he walked off the court at Staples Center and gazed at two of the things that motivated him to finish the job before the series could return to Phoenix.

“I was thinking about [Kobe Bryant] and the conversations that we had,” Booker told reporters in his postgame Zoom call. “Kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there. So seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at Staples has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you.

“And I know he was here tonight. I know he was here tonight. I know he’s in the building. I know he was proud.”

Booker’s words illustrated the influence Bryant had on younger NBA players. Bryant’s direct mentorship ended when he died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.  

The 24-year-old Booker is averaging 29.6 points and 6.2 rebounds after six games in his first trip to the postseason. His play helped him earn a post-series meeting with LeBron James and a very special item: an autographed jersey.

Booker and the Suns’ next task is to take down the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals beginning Monday.

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