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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kobe sees similarities with ex-Jayhawk Wiggins

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins defends against Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins defends against Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles

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Alert the hype police. Someone actually had the audacity to compare Minnesota rookie Andrew Wiggins with future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.

Wiggins has played all of 24 games in the NBA. Bryant, face of the Los Angeles Lakers, has five championship rings and is the league’s third all-time leading scorer (32,331 points).

Who in their right mind could look at Wiggins (303 points) and see Bryant?

Kobe Bean Bryant himself. That’s who.

On the same night the 36-year-old passed his boyhood idol, Michael Jordan, for third place in career points — against Minnesota and Wiggins — he saw a little of himself in the 19-year-old trying to stop him.

The 6-foot-8 rookie from Kansas University with the 7-foot wingspan and treasure trove of upside scored 16 points Sunday in his second meeting with Bryant’s Lakers (far better than a three-point, 30-minute performance the last week of November). It wasn’t enough to out-duel Bryant (26 points), nor for a Timberwolves win, but even on a night Wiggins shot 4-for-12, the rookie’s overall game impressed Bryant to some degree.

“Yeah, it was a strange feeling, because I remember being Andrew Wiggins,” Bryant told ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes. “I remember playing against Michael my first year. To be here tonight and to play against him, seeing the baby face and the little footwork or little technique things that he’s going to be much sharper at as time goes on — it was like looking at a reflection of myself 19 years ago. It was pretty cool.”

Kobe’s math might be a little off (he was still in high school in 1995), but the point is the 16-time all-star respects the Canadian teenager who has eons to go to reach that same astral plane.

Of course, Wiggins (12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds) will always remember the “legendary moment” when Bryant hit two free throws in Minneapolis to surpass Jordan, he said in an interview on the Timberwolves’ website. More importantly, the novice will carry with him the all-pro’s words.

“It’s an honor,” Wiggins said of Bryant’s comparison, following a Monday practice. “Just motivation to my ears. It strives me to work even harder to become something like him, you know. He’s an all-time great.”

Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, also the organization’s president of basketball operations, sure hopes Bryant is right. He acquired the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft in a three-team deal that sent former Minnesota all-star Kevin Love to Cleveland.

“(Bryant) saw some of the things that (Wiggins) could do,” Saunders said in an interview posted at Timberwolves.com. “He didn’t shy away from the moment and I think that’s where Kobe looks at him and probably sees himself. He’s not afraid of the moment and is pretty cool and calm in any type of situation. He doesn’t seem to get too high and just goes about doing his business.”

YOUNG KOBE VS. YOUNG WIGGINS

Kobe Bryant at 19 (1997-98: second season, 79 games)

15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 42.8 FG%, 34.1 3-point%, 79.4 FT%

Andrew Wiggins at 19 (2014-15: rookie season, through 24 games)

12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 39.4 FG%, 36.4 3-point %, 70.3 FT%

Comments

Nathan Scholl 4 years, 6 months ago

So many jokes here.....I'll leave it alone. Keep it up Wiggs. KU Nation wants nothing more than to see you become a legend. But you don't need to be Kobe. Please don't be Kobe. Be Andrew. Rock Chalk.

Keith Gellar 4 years, 6 months ago

better watch what you wish for..if being Andrew equates to his last season performance @ KU, then the timberwolves are in trouble. no really..we need him to be like kobe or lebron

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 6 months ago

Much respect for Kobe, and what an honor to Wiggins.

Love him or hate him, Kobe is an all-timer. 5 rings. 3rd all-time career scorer. And the closest thing to ne next MJ that there's even been in 20+ years of trying to find the next MJ.

Was Harold Miner the first "next MJ"? He was an NBA rookie in 1992, and Michael Jordan was just getting started winning titles and MVP trophies.

Armen Kurdian 4 years, 6 months ago

I remember when Kobe Bryant was on the label of Nutella. That made no sense to me.

Brianna Zaleski 4 years, 6 months ago

Keith- are you the same person today that you were when you were 18?

Andrew is destined for greatness and we should be HONORED to be associated with him forever thru our beloved Jayhawks. Mostly because of his ability to tune out idiotic noise such as what coming from you now. Even if last season did not live up to your expectations.

If I had a son, I would be delighted if he chose Andrew Wiggins as a role model. because in today's day of flawed athletes, AW is a bright shining light.

Allison Steen 4 years, 6 months ago

Still baffles me how willing KU "fans" are to bash current and former players. A poor last game I put as much blame on Self as our players. Wiggins wasn't perfect, as no one at 18 (or any age) is, but he deserves our respect. To all the people hiding behind their computer screens, grow up.

Michael Leiker 4 years, 6 months ago

A great number of us dislike the whole situation that makes us have to have guys like Wiggins on the squad for a year...it's not necessarily hating on him directly, its a frustration with the circumstance. And many of us honestly believe having him hurt the team last year. He was about the worst passer and ball handler KU has had playing a guard position in decades. Was definitely not just about one game. Thus, we find comparisons to Kobe pretty far out there.

Michael Leiker 4 years, 6 months ago

Guess I call it stating facts...Like your solution though...

Michael Leiker 4 years, 6 months ago

And you're right, it's pretty much hating...dude drove me crazy last year

Jeremy Wilhelm 4 years, 6 months ago

We may have seen KU lose 5-10 more games with out Andrew last year. Our problem wasn't the three. It was clearly the 1 and, once Joel went down, the 5. PLEASE quit hating on the kid.

Allison Steen 4 years, 6 months ago

What is a player supposed to do? Just not go to college and workout on their own for a year? I'm not sure where on earth you think KU would've been without Wiggins. We wouldn't have won another big 12 championship, that's for sure. If you don't like the situation, call out the situation. Don't call out a player who absolutely gave everything he had. Fans like you give the others a bad name. Who on earth would complain about having Wiggins: an elite defender, an incredible athlete, and the leading scorer on their team? Only KU fans, apparently.

Erich Hartmann 4 years, 6 months ago

Mike, so you think Wiggins was a worse ball handler and passer than Ben McLemore? Recall Ben wasnt capable of regularly bringing up the ball, something that left EJ high-&-dry when it mattered most. Releford was shaky, but a better ball handler than McLemore. Wiggins was a slasher, and exhibited much better handles than fellow lotto pick McLemore. Not bashing McLemore, but its easy to point to particular skills that Wiggins was better at.

And note to Kobe: Wiggins plays defense, and if he has any work ethic, he could impact both ends of the court, ala MJ.

But in all honesty, I'd like the Wiggins to become like Kwahe Leonard of the Spurs, a rock solid contributor who is starting to become more aggressive. Wiggins has a chance to take that type of foundation to a superstar level in a few years. I wish WiggyBaby the best. If he does good, it makes KU look good--even its by simple superficial association.

Rob Stewart 4 years, 6 months ago

Amen, AW would be a great role model, lets hope he doesn't let, money, fame, fortune, woman, drugs, sex, rock and roll change him.... He is off to a good start, if he stays out of the "sin" box.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 6 months ago

There's far worse fates than being Kobe Bryant on the court. Just don't be Kobe off the court though.

Dale Rogers 4 years, 6 months ago

Quite a compliment for Wiggins. I like that he still maintains that humility despite all the adulation and money.

Brianna Zaleski 4 years, 6 months ago

Michael,

Who would you have rather had play that position last year? Andrew White? Brennan Greene?

Because of the rules, Wiggins had to go somewhere. I, for one, am thrilled he chose the Jayhawks. Think of all the indirect dividends that paid. That recruit put us on the map for all future big time recruits. At least for the foreseeable future.

I'm sorry his dribbling wasn't up to your expectations. I, too, would get frustrated w some of his mistakes. But he was only 18. How many times, however, did your jaw hit the floor when his athleticism was on full display? Let's be honest, the only real anger was that we couldn't have him longer. And the real problem last year wasn't Andrew's youthful mistakes, it was our lack of a true point guard to facilitate his God given abilities.

Erich Hartmann 4 years, 6 months ago

I'll expound on my point to Michael, with the more general comment about KU basketball (not Wiggins):

Its about time we have some guards without 'shaky' handles. What a joy to see the tight dribbling by Mason. I've seen VanVleet get his pocket picked more than Mason, and I cant remember Mason outright getting the ball stole from him. Graham is far better than Tharpe. Selden is a good, but not great dribbler. But he is better than McLemore. I see Selden and Wiggins about the same level of ball-handling.

Havent had a top dog dribbler like Mason since, well, Sherron Collins. Connor Frankamp should have stayed at KU to take notes from Frank Mason...lol... Someone tell Frankamp that Mason is hitting 50% 3 (!!!)s, but then I think he already saw that in practice, & that is part of what sent CF packing: he got his one forte stolen from him.

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