Kobe Bryant meant as much to the growth of women’s basketball as any other current or former NBA player, and his everlasting impact on the game was on full display at Staples Center on Monday. In remembrance of the Los Angeles Laker legend, several prominent women’s basketball figures were asked to speak at the memorial service, including legendary UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, Oregon Ducks’ star Sabrina Ionescu, and WNBA icon Diana Taurasi.
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In speaking about Kobe’s legacy, Auriemma, Ionescu and Taurasi applauded the way Bryant had pushed the women’s game forward, specifically noting how his 13-year old daughter Gianna was poised to become the next great superstar. In discussing GiGi’s impressive, Black Mamba-like skill set, Taurasi offered a lighthearted jab at Lakers superstar LeBron James, as she quipped that GiGi had a better turnaround jumper at 11 years old than LeBron has today.
As seen in the clip embedded below, Taurasi’s remark about LeBron presented a much needed moment of comedic relief for the 20,000+ in attendance.
Later on in her speech, Taurasi praised GiGi as an inspiration and someone who represents the future of women’s hoops.
“Gigi in many ways, represents the future of women’s basketball. A future where a young woman aspires to play in the WNBA. The same way I wanted to be a Laker,” Taurasi remarked (H/T LA Times).
“Gigi already had goals to play for UConn that in itself showed her fearless mentality. She represents a time where a young girl doesn’t need permission to play. Her skill would command respect.”
Check out Taurasi’s full speech in the video embedded below.