Cal freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb are a couple old souls whose favorite players are definitely old school.
Rabb’s hoops idol is 39-year-old Kevin Garnett, and Brown’s “all-time favorite” is 37-year-old Kobe Bryant.
Only one of the young Cal stars accidentally suggested his guy might be over the hill during a Thursday media session at Haas Pavilion.
Brown said he tries “to mirror everything” Bryant does on the court.
Then he added, “Current players? Kobe’s kind of on his way into retirement. I mean, like he’s at the end.”
It didn’t take Brown but a moment to realize the road he’d gone down.
“Not to say he can’t go. Not to say Kobe isn’t going to be Kobe,” he said among laughter at his inadvertent poke at Bryant’s 20 seasons in the NBA.
Among the younger NBA set, Brown said his favorites are San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. “I like the way they play,” he said.
Rabb hopes to emulate the way Garnett influences the game on offense and defense. The other piece is Garnett’s role as an emotional leader on the floor.
“He wants to make his teammates better by being vocal,” Rabb said. “That’s one of the things I need to grow into.”
Martin, while allowing that Garnett is “one of the best ever to play the game,” welcomes Rabb’s desire to impact the game in so many ways. “I think he has that in him. The last two weeks, he’s really stepped his game up. He’s playing at a high level right now.”