NORRIS Cole studied Michael Jordan on videos as a kid, played alongside LeBron James, and had the chance to play against His Airness’ heir apparent, Kobe Bryant, in the NBA.
“Are the comparisons (between Jordan and Kobe) warranted?” SPIN.ph asked Cole during a media event at the NBA Café at SM Aura on Wednesday.
“I watched a lot of Michael Jordan growing up and I still watch a lot of MJ. I leave Michael Jordan in a class of his own, I don’t put anybody up there with him.
“But Kobe definitely learned from Mike. You can tell by his mannerisms, you can tell by the way he shoots. By the way he plays the game, he’s learned from MJ. And Kobe’s a legend of the game. It’s sad to see him leave the game like this but he went out on top,” said the 6-2 point guard of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Cole is a first-time Manila visitor as part of the Jr. NBA Jr. WNBA Philippines 2016 National Training Camp presented by Alaska.
A back-up guard for a Miami Heat team that won two NBA championships, Cole said Bryant’s legacy, as Jordan, is already established.
“(Kobe) has five championships. He’ll always be remembered. You know 50 or 100 years from now you’ll know who Kobe Bryant is because he put in the work and accomplished so much.”
When SPIN.ph asked if he had a favorite Kobe Bryant moment, he laughed.
“Yes. 60 points in his last game! The oldest player to score 60 points in a basketball game!”
Cole shifted from football to hoops in order to pursue a career in professional sports.
“Basketball was the best chance for me to be a professional athlete so it was important for me to have that basketball experience from college and it was a chance for me to play Division 1 basketball with Cleveland State under Coach Gary Waters,” he told reporters.
Not your typical jock, the 27-year old Cole is a member of the National Honor Society and was the salutatorian of his high school class at Dunbar High School where he played with former NBA player Daequan Cook.
Along with WNBA champions Taj McWIlliams-Franklin, Cole will help coach participants of the Jr. NBA/ Jr. WNBA National Training Camp at the Don Bosco Institute on April 22-23 and at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall on April 24.
“Don’t cheat the game. You gotta put the time in. You gotta understand sportsmanship and being a great teammate. Having a great attitude and have a respect for the game. If you do these things you’ll have a great chance of making it,” Cole said in a message to the young players.
Selected from regional tryouts in Baguio, Cebu, Davao and Manila, 10 boys and five girls will be chosen as Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA All-Stars who will get the chance to savor an overseas NBA experience trip together with other selectees from Southeast Asia.
"It feels great knowing how much boys and girls in the Philippines appreciate basketball," said McWilliams-Franklin. "I'm excited to share my time on an off the court and inspire more children to play the game."