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Cam Thomas on Kobe Bryant: ‘First time I watched him play, I just fell in love’

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2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

In an interview with Tina Cervasio of FOX5 Sports, Cam Thomas talks about his love for Kobe Bryant and how he developed his confidence. The two are not unrelated.

Thomas, who has spoken about how he idolized Bryant’s game, was asked did he remember the first time he watched the Lakers legend. He didn’t give a date but said it was love at first sight.

“First time I watched him play, I just fell in love wanted to watch everything about him,” he told Cervasio. “Everything he did, I wanted to do. Every shot he took, I wanted to take it. Sometimes, I’d be out on the driveway, mimicking him, his post-ups, his jump shots, his fadeaways. I just gravitated towards him and I’m just glad I got to watch him play through his basketball career.”

On Draft Night, in fact, Thomas showed off his love for Bryant with a suit jacket that included a tribute to Bryant in its lining.

The 19-year-old spoke as well about where he got the confidence to take — and make — so many big shots in Las Vegas, where he not only led the Summer League with a 27.0 average but had the week’s high game, 36 points. Like Bryant, he says, he puts in a lot of work.

“It just comes from my work in the gym, honestly. I put a lot of work in. When you put in a lot of work, confidence comes from that, you know. You have belief in yourself to take those shots to make those shots come from time in the gym.

“I also have confidence from my coaching staff. They trusted me to take those shots, put the ball in my hands down the stretch, let me do what I do. Also from my teammates just being there, telling me to do that as well.”

Cervasio’s first question to Thomas drew a big smile. She asked, “What’s cooler, being the breakout star at NBA Summer League or looking for an apartment in New York City at just 19 years old?” Thomas said it was the Summer League, explaining what he felt he did.

“Go out there and play good and dominate, to play good and do what you normally do. I was just trying to go out there and soak everything in and learn as much as possible and keep getting better from game to game. I felt like I did that.”