Isaiah Thomas had a solid outing in his New Orleans Pelicans' debut on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks, and he may have Kobe Bryant to thank for that.
While speaking with the media on Tuesday, Thomas got emotional while talking about his decision to wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant, his lifelong mentor.
"Kobe was one of my very close mentors," Thomas said, according to TMZ Sports. "And [choosing #24] was an opportunity to pay homage to one of the best players to ever play the game."
"Hopefully it works out and I could play like Kobe a little bit if I get in there."
Thomas notched 10 points, two rebounds and two assists in his first NBA action since February 2020. He signed a 10-day deal with the Pels and is hoping to land a full deal for the remainder of the 2020-21 campaign.
Bryant and Thomas had a close relationship. The 32-year-old would often text the Los Angeles Lakers icon to ask for advice about basketball and about life, which is something he misses being able to do.
"I miss that ... about being able to reach out to not one of the best basketball players in the world, but one of the best people in the world," Thomas said.
Bryant died in January 2020 and many players have paid tribute to him in different ways this season.