INDIANAPOLIS — Devin Booker let it rip with a smile about the global reaction to his issue with the “Raptor” mascot after his 35-point night in Friday’s 112-94 victory over the Pacers.
“It’s a meme world now, you know what I’m saying,” said Booker when asked if this has blown up even more than even he thought it would. “I just try to keep perspective and I’m having fun with it. We have the best record in the NBA. We’re playing good basketball. Life’s good. My family is healthy. Ain’t nothing but a joke to me.”
He closed his postgame interview addressing a question about how some social media take things far too seriously than him and took the opportunity to speak directly to those on there who keep comparing him to one of his basketball idols, the late, great Kobe Bryant.
“I’m really enjoying this and I always have enjoyed social media,” Booker said. “I check it daily and when they’re saying good things about it, I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low on it. The only problem I have is people still comparing me to Kobe Bryant when I told them in the playoffs stop bringing up Mamba mentality. I’m inspired by Kobe Bryant and Mamba mentality, but I am not Kobe Bryant.”
After a pause, Booker continued with a closing statement on the situation and walked out of the interview room.
“And people are out here yelling Mamba mentality from their mama’s house,” Booker said. “I’ll leave you with that.”
The two-time Suns All-Star has received resounding attention following Tuesday’s win in Toronto as he reacted to the ‘Raptor” mascot waving from behind the basket while taking free throws with 6.5 seconds left in an fan-less Scotiabank Arena.
After the game, Booker joked about it, saying the mascot was “alive,” that they’re “homies now.”
Some had fun with Booker on it while others poked fun and criticized him as the situation has been a topic of conversation on national sports media networks.
Booker even changed his Twitter profile picture to “Raptor” kneeling to the side of the court after the referee had him move away from the area.
Still, Booker saw some of the reaction as “hate,” which made the support Kentucky fans showed him at Friday’s game even more meaningful.
“It’s love, man,” Booker said. “There’s no feeling like it, especially after a lot of hate last game coming into that. Puts things in perspective to have Big Blue Nation faithful in here and showing love. That’s what it’s about. I appreciate that.”
Chris Paul didn’t know what Booker was talking about when he said to him, ‘Home game 3,’ but quickly discovered what he meant when seeing the UK love for his teammate.
“That Big Blue Nation, they roll deep,” Paul said. “It was like a home game for real.”
During Friday’s pregame and during the first quarter, a dinosaur mascot was courtside that was clearly a play off what happened in Toronto.
The mascot held up a sign that said, “Am I a distraction?” while Booker was taking a free throw in the first quarter.
As the game progressed, the mascot was not longer present as the Suns (32-9) took an early lead and Booker later scored 22 points in the third quarter.
“I ain’t see him, either,” Booker said. “I’m looking for him, though.”
All the attention from the “Raptor” situation could make one forget his performance Friday night, but Booker’s teammates certainly recognized his play.
“We don’t win this game if he don’t crazy like that,” Paul said. “His shot making is unreal. Shot clock running down. Cash. Driving to the basket.”
Booker shot 8-of-12 from the field in the third quarter, hitting 4-of-6 from 3.
“He just made some tough shots,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We gave up 38 points in that third quarter so we needed something to offset that.”
For the game, Booker tied a career high for made threes with six as he was major part of night that saw Deandre Ayton score 21 of his 27 points in the first half and Paul drop 10 of his 12 in the fourth on 5-of-6 shooting.
“They have a lot of answers,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “… Ayton early. Booker in the third and then Paul at the end. Those are three tremendous players.”
Booker may see another dinosaur mascot Sunday afternoon when the Suns play in his home state of Michigan against the Pistons (10-31).
” I’m sure he’ll be in Detroit,” Booker said. “I’m sure he’ll follow me everywhere,”
Booker will also have family in Little Caesars Arena, too.
“It’s a lot of love, man,” Booker said. “I think people usually don’t like coming to these cities. the Indianas and Detroit, but I truly enjoy it. They have good crowds.”
Booker said his aunt came to Friday’s game.
“I haven’t seen her in couple of years since before the pandemic and she was here tonight,” Booker said. “There’s no feeling like that.”
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