If Friday night was any indication, Kobe Bryant’s legacy of supporting the women’s game is being carried on by the current and former NBA stars he left behind.
During the 2020 WNBA — where Bryant’s late daughter, Gianna, was selected as an honorary pick to kick off the draft — a slew of NBA players were active on social media congratulating and cheering on their newly drafted counterparts.
Kevin Durant’s tweet came out first when it was announced that Oregon stand out guard, Sabrina Ionescu, was picked with the No.1 pick, headed to New York and would be playing in the same arena as Durant and the Nets. Knicks guard RJ Barrett also pitched in a video message for Ionescu on Twitter
Durant later appeared on a video message during the draft congratulating the ninth overall pick UConn forward, Megan Walker who also is headed to NY to play with the Liberty, but, like Durant, also is from the D.C. region.
When Oregon forward Satou Sabally was taken with the second overall pick by the Dallas Wings, many folks in the Twitter sphere were stoked, in part because another Dallas franchise selected a German basketball star. The star that put Germany Europe on the NBA map, Dirk Nowitzki, surprised many when he extended his congratulations to Sabally.
Lebron James sent congratulations to Sabally on her big night, too.
Kevin Love was later on live stream when Baylor forward, Lauren Cox was taken with the third pick by the Indiana Fever. He delivered some encouraging words and said he was a big fan of her game.
Hawks point guard Trae Young finished the first round with a congratulations to Texas A&M point guard, Chennedy Carter, who is headed to the Atlanta Dream.
Jazz point guard, Donovan Mitchell, gave a shout out at the beginning of the second round to fellow Louisville Cardinal, Kylee Shook, who was taken at 13 overall.
Perhaps this is a sign of new support for a league that has often struggled to grow in the shadow of the NBA. Bryant would have likely hoped so, as he recognized that the talent and work ethic these women embody is similar in many ways to that seen in the NBA.
Friday night’s outpouring was a great step in helping to bring more awareness and appreciation to the women’s game. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.