OKC Thunder in the news: Westbrook among top Kobe rivals, Roberson talks superstars

Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook makes Kobe Bryant top 40 rivals list and gains some extra shine while Roberson talks playing with superstars.

For those of us old enough to remember Kobe Bryant from the beginning of his career it’s hard to fathom he’s turning 40. With this milestone the Black Mamba is getting plenty of attention this entire week. Russell Westbrook factors into the celebration as he made the list of the top 40 rivals Kobe faced in his career. And, Westbrook got a bit more shine from Bryant.

Kobe turns 40:

NBA writers Micah Adams and Scott Rafferty paid homage to Kobe Bryant turning 40 by listing the top 40 rivals the Lakers star faced over his career. Most know Bryant’s main inspiration was Michael Jordan, but of the new generation it’s Russell Westbrook who he cited as being the most similar to himself.

In one regard that’s a huge compliment. On the other hand Bryant sort of defined the iso-ball era. Let’s hope Westbrook isn’t remembered for being the superstar who got trapped in the mid range.

"Like looking in a mirror: Some of the biggest names in today’s NBA see shades of Kobe when they watch Westbrook. Even Kobe sees it. According to Lakers Nation , Kobe said Westbrook is the player who reminds him the most of himself. “When I turn on the TV and I watch players play, the player that plays with the same kind of emotion and grit and competitive intensity is Russell.”"

The two stars faced each other 22 times in their careers with Westbrook having a 2 game edge (12 wins). And, while Kobe scored one more point per game (23.5 to 22.5), it was Westbrook who won the assists per game (8.2 to 5.4) and rebounds per game (6.1 to 4.8).

It’s not uncommon for any of the players in their primes to have a connection to Kobe, but the players who grew up in LA have an added attachment. DeMar DeRozan studied everything Kobe and spent summers reviewing film of Bryant’s best moves. Pull up old film of Bryant in his prime paying attention to his footwork and then pull up DeRozan’s film and it’s like viewing a carbon copy. Likewise there are elements of Kobe’s game in Kawhi Leonard (who incidentally never lost to the Mamba with a 7-0 lifetime record) and Paul George. I was surprised PG didn’t make the top 40 list, but with the stars being on opposite coasts they didn’t have as many meetings.

Andre Roberson on playing with superstars and timeline for return:

Chuck Miketinac of Fox Sports in San Antonio featured a sit down with Andre Roberson. The OKC Thunder star is in town to host his annual basketball camp. In the second segment of the interview ARob is asked about playing alongside superstars and his thoughts on this years squad. This isn’t news for Thunder Nation, but Roberson mirrors what others have said about Westbrook stating Russ would take his shirt off his back for anyone. He does note, he can see the perspective of opponents not being fans.

Another insight ARob offered was he’s sad to see Carmelo Anthony leave noting what a great teammate Melo was and the extensive knowledge he provided.

Perhaps the most surprising part was many thought Roberson was on track to be back for season start but the wing man said his goal is to come back 100 percent healthy with a goal of being back before Christmas.

The tweet below showcases the first segment of the interview series.

Diallo wows:

More from Thunder News

There might be a showdown coming between Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo for dunking. Forget the slam dunk contest at the All-Star Game. While Russell Westbrook is known for his insane power dunks these two youngsters hops and verticality is what’s impressing.

Do yourself a favor and head over to Team Flight Brothers Twitter account. There you’ll find video of TFerg dunking as a teenager and an August 19 tweet showing just how insanely high Hamidou Diallo can jump. I’m still shaking my head after viewing it.

Following up on dunks, coming this weekend TI has a special article by Noah Schulte on the top 50 dunks in OKC history, make sure to drop in and offer your opinion on the rankings.

Next. Thunder Trivia: uncovering 50 fun, surprising and random facts. dark

In addition our 30 for 30 series continues with some intriguing trade options offered by Lawrence George. Also coming in the next few days a top 10 playoff moments from Alex Mcewen. So lots of exciting posts dropping in the next few days. Enjoy your day and see you back here tomorrow.