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It's more fun to get creative in the search for players with traits matching Bryant's, but there are some situations you just can't overthink.

Russell Westbrook is wired with the same hyper-competitive drive that defined Kobe's career—right down to the part where critics questioned whether there was more than a hint of selfishness creeping in to sabotage team goals.

His approach is expressly Kobe-approved.

It's also interesting to note that Russ, like Kobe, shared his early career with another superstar before a bitter breakup. Kevin Durant is Westbrook's Shaq. Mid-career, we got the same stat-stuffing one-man show from Westbrook (see last year's triple-double average and MVP award) as we saw from Bryant in the period after O'Neal left but before the Lakers rebuilt a contender.

Remember that 81-point game? What about the 35.4 points per game in 2005-06? Bryant was Westbrook-ing hard back then.

We don't know how Westbrook's twilight years will play out, but considering his game is based almost entirely on athleticism, and the fact that he's having his least efficient season ever, there's a good chance he'll face criticism for trying to do too much with diminished skills—just like Bryant did as his career wound down., index News of business criminal law politics soccer sports celebrity lifestyle video images in the world and the world today.

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