Despite Michael Jordan being his favourite player growing up, Dwyane Wade looked at Kobe Bryant as the benchmark when entering the league
When coming into the NBA, looked at legend Kobe Bryant as the benchmark he had to try and reach if he wanted to be considered great.
Drafted with the fifth overall pick by the in 2003, Wade had a reasonable pedigree but wasn't necessarily touted as the Hall of Famer he went on to become when comparing him to other notable names in his draft class.
When appearing on the J.J. Redick podcast, the three-time champion revealed that was the basketball standard he wanted to reach.
Wade's respect for Bryant was telling, especially considering he was born and bred in Chicago, with the NBA icon to look up to in his backyard.
For most players in Wade's era, Bryant rewrote what it meant to be a competitor and champion in the association.
Luckily for Wade, he and Kobe's game had similar tendencies, and he leveraged his already advanced gifts to make up that gap over time. Eventually, Wade achieved his goals and reached Kobe's level – resulting in a championship in 2006 in just his third year in the league.
The duo eventually shared gold medal glory for Team USA in 2008, and throughout the latter stages of his career, Bryant turned from opponent to mentor to Wade as he handed the torch over to the next generation of all-time greats.
Gone but never forgotten, it's safe to say that Wade wasn't the only one that viewed Bryant as the absolute benchmark when entering the NBA.