Dear National Media,
Please keep underestimating and disrespecting Devin Booker. Keep saying that there are seven other people more likely to make their first all-star appearance than him. Tell the world that his $158 Million extension was irresponsible. Make the argument that Donovan Mitchell is better than him, that he’s a terrible defender for his position and that his 70 point g wasn’t as impressive as it seems.
Don’t worry, you won’t hurt his feelings. In fact, you’ll do quite the opposite. You’ll be the Libyans fueling the DeLorean that his career with your plutonium of hate.
It bec clear to me in Toronto at the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend that Booker had that killer instinct and maturity that would make him a star. His demeanor all weekend was one of a guy who had been there before. No spotlight was too bright, moment too big or interaction too small for him. The moment that stuck with me most was the fact that, despite having an impressive third place finish in the Three-Point Contest, as a 19-year old, the first thing he said to me was that he wanted to apologize to the fans for not bringing the title home but that he’d be back to win it soon. He was a man of his word. Two years later he showed up,set a record and took home the trophy. Killer. Instinct. He has it.
Ironically, Booker’s first All-Star Weekend was Kobe Bryant’s final one. As much as I detest the Lakers and Bryant, that weekend the similarities between the two emerged. Booker has that s swagger, the s drive and the s flair for the big stage. A few weeks later, Bryant visited Phoenix on his farewell tour and bestowed the Suns’ young shooting guard with a pair of his sneakers with the inscription “Be Legendary.”
That’s become more than an autograph. It’s become a battle cry. A driving force. A call he’s looking to answer regardless of opposing opinions or defense.
Just think about this. Booker was only the sixth player in league history to average over 21 points at 20 years of age or younger joint only Kyrie, LeBron, Melo, Durant and Shaq to do it.
At age 21, he was one of just 12 players in NBA history to average 24.9 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 38% from three. The only other players? Yeah, guys you’d like to be on a list with. Bird, Curry, Durant, LeBron, Harden, Joe Johnson, Jordan, Malone, McGrady, Pierce and you guessed it, Kobe.
There are dozens of stats like that which showcase just how special Booker has been in his first three seasons. Oh yeah, and he’s one of only six players, including Bryant, to ever score 70 or more in a single game.
Say what you will about him. Judge him under the most critical of eyes. Say the hottest of hot takes involving him. It’s alright, he’ll just use it as another step in his staircase to something special. At least Suns fans better hope that’s the case because a lot is riding on him and his ability to develop into a star. Whether the national media wants to buy in or not.