Former First-Round Pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Brings Kobe’s Likeness To FIBA World Cup

Former first-round NBA draft pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has turned heads during the FIBA World Cup with his Kobe Bryant impression.

Playing as a citizen of Jordan, Hollis-Jefferson, who played five unremarkable seasons in the NBA between 2016 and 2021, dropped 39 points, nine rebounds, and four assists in a 95-87 loss against New Zealand Monday night.

The former Brooklyn Net sported Bryant’s signature ‘bald-ish’ head, #24 jersey, and forearm sleeve while mimicking Bryant’s impressive footwork and free-throw shooting form during the game.

Team Jordan ran out of gas in overtime and lost, but the fans were thoroughly entertained. The crowd at Mall Of Asia Arena in the Philippines chanted “Kobe!” to celebrate the Philadelphia native’s performance. After the game, Hollis-Jefferson praised Kobe’s game and work ethic.

“He’s a legend, and you can only dream of being compared to someone like him,” Hollis-Jefferson said, according to ESPN. “But I’m nowhere near close to Kobe. I’ve tried to be a hard worker like he was, and I feel his energy. I also know a lot of people that knew him, so I’ve been hearing stories about him my whole life.”

Hollis-Jefferson was mostly a strong defender and big man during his time in the NBA. However, he has completely retooled his game, becoming more of a slashing wing player. The 28-year-old followed up his performance against New Zealand with a team-high 20 points in a 110-62 loss to Team USA Wednesday morning.

The game gave NBA scouts a chance to look at Hollis-Jefferson’s refined game as he tries to make a return to the league after playing professionally in Puerto Rico in 2022.

Since being out of the NBA, the former University of Arizona product reevaluated his life and career, becoming a pescatarian and losing 15 pounds. He also began working with a leadership advisor to change his outlook on life.

“I’m trying to show that I can compete with the best of the best and bring energy to every game,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I always admired Kobe’s killer mindset and competitive spirit, and I’m trying to learn from it.”

The Los Angeles Lakers will unveil a statue of the five-time NBA champion, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020, in front of the Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 8, 2024.