Kobe Bryant: How Warriors' Steph Curry Channeled Lakers Icon With Lengthy Rehab

When Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry learned that Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, he was in the middle of rehabbing and making his way back to the team. After missing 58 games, the two-time MVP returned to the lineup on Thursday against the Toronto Raptors and talked to TNT's Kristen Ledlow about how he channeled Bryant during the final stages of his rehab.

"We all go out and compete, and we want to win," Curry said per Yahoo.com. "You see that intensity and that fierceness come out on the court. I think that is something he embodied better than anybody, and it's given me a drive to get through this (broken hand) and not really complain about what I have going on, and just an appreciation and gratitude for what I get to do for a living every single day. ... There's no better way to honor him, honor what we get to do on a game-by-game basis and just have an appreciation for basketball at the highest level with other talented guys that love the game just like you do."

Back in February, Curry talked about his favorite memory of Bryant, which happened during his rookie season when the Lakers ere closing out a win against the Warriors.

"They panned to [Bryant] on the bench watching," Curry said to the Washington Post. "He mouthed to whoever was sitting next to him, 'Yo, he’s nice.' I saw that clip afterward and I cracked a big smile knowing Kobe was impressed with what I was doing on the court as a rookie.

"That moment was invaluable in building my confidence. He was always great at validating the next generation of talent. Once he took an interest in you, you had to know you were doing something right."

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In Thursday's game against the Raptors, Curry scored 23 points while pulling down seven boards and recording seven assists in the 121-113 loss. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was impressed with what he saw from Curry.

"I thought he looked great, moved well," coach Steve Kerr said per ESPN. "It was not the ideal set of circumstances for him -- we were taking him in and out of the lineup to keep his minutes down and to keep his stints shorter. He's not used to that. But he obviously gave us a huge lift, and he changes the whole game when he's out there."