Norm McDonald passing away revealed he was the comedian's comedian - his status was much higher among his peers than in the general public. Almost every comedian had Norm on their top list, which can't be said about comedy fans. Almost every line of work has people like that. The average fan/observer gets they are good, but for some reason their peers adore them. For basketball, that guy was Kobe Bryant.
A great player, Kobe would always rank a lot higher on lists made by players than those by fans or media members. Obviously, players saw something in Kobe most of us didn't - things only those behind the curtain know to recognize. That's why Kobe's opinion mattered so much to players. Getting a nod from Mamba was a special badge of honor, and Steph Curry wears his with utmost pride.
"Kob' did an interview once, it's one of my favorite comments about me in terms of how he saw the killer instinct behind the smile. I can have fun and joy, I'm still out there to rip your heart out. It's just a different way that it looks."
Steph Curry, Hoops Adjacent
It's one of the most misunderstood things about Curry. Just because he doesn't flex like Westbrook, doesn't mean Steph has a lesser killer instinct or competitive drive. People often conflate amicable communication with amicable intentions, and that's a mistake. Kobe knew not to make that mistake and talked about it while Curry was still up and coming. This was before the Warriors won their first title, or Steph his MVP awards.
"I see a calmness about him. I think that's something a lot of players don't understand. The fans, it's really hard for the fans to understand what I'm saying. Most players don't get it. But there's a serious calmness about him which is extremely deadly. He's not up, he's not down. He's not contemplating what's just happened before or worrying about what's to come next - he's just there. And when a player has the skills and has trained himself to have the skills to be able to shoot, dribble, left, right, etc. And then you mix that with this calmness and poise, then you have a serious, serious problem on your hands. When I watch him play, that's what I see."
Three titles and two MVP awards later, I guess we could say this Bryant guy knew what he was talking about. It's one thing when someone gets what most people misunderstand about you. It's a whole different thing when it's a giant from your line of work. Once a champion known as Mamba says you have the killer instinct, the conversation on that topic is over.
If you don't know, now you know.