After having success through his rookie season, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker saw defenders were adjusting to his game by throwing bigger and better defenders at him. This off-season, the 19-year-old spent more time in the weight room as he prepares for his second season in the league. Booker joined The Jim Rome Show today to discuss the challenges of being guarded by some of the best athletes in the world.
“It was tough, it was new to me. Going against defenders like Kawhi Leonard, LeBron those type of kind of guys,” Booker said of his rookie season. “They are grown men, they weigh a lot more than me, and they are a lot stronger than me, so I had to be creative…try to get foul calls change my pace..there’s a lot to it, but when you’re playing against good defenders like that you know you’re not going to be faster than them so you have to find different ways.”
One of those defenders he got to play against was his idol, Kobe Bryant.
“I can tell this story the rest of my life,” Booker said. “I always hear Tyson (Chandler) tell me stories about playing against Mike (Jordan) and things like that and I’m like one day I’ll get to tell my young guys I got to play against Kobe Bryant so he’s someone that I always looked to, idolized him since I’d been born honestly. He’s been in the league since I’ve been born. So having the chance to go against him, knowing he’s the ultimate competitor, I just want to follow his footsteps and be someone like Kobe.”
Booker must have done enough in his first season to turn heads, according to NBA.com GM vote he won a runaway vote to be breakout player for 2016-17.
“I appreciate it a lot and I put a lot of hard work into the game and into my craft and just hearing something like that, especially from the brains of basketball, you know it means a lot,” Booker said, but added: “I’m still focused on getting wins coming together as a team and making our playoff push.”
Booker also talked about his love for Big Blue Nation. While he only played one season at Kentucky, Booker says the outreach is incredible and there’s nothing like it.
“Until you are actually apart of Big Blue Nation I don’t think you understand, the love we get from them is unbelievable,” Booker said. “It’s a life time love also. Everywhere I go…I was in Mexico this summer and I ran into a group of Kentucky fans, it’s just crazy how they know you, they treat you like rock stars. And when you’re in Lexington, everybody loves basketball. So that’s the environment I wanted to be in and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life just being around the culture of Big Blue Nation.”