25 August, 2023
10 September
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RHJ on Mamba magic: ''Kobe was with me down the stretch''

MANILA (Philippines) - What started as a simple lookalike comparison based on a new haircut and the jersey number became a global phenomenon: the Philippines are now Rondae Hollis Jefferson's land of magic.

Throughout his 300+ games NBA career, RHJ had all sorts of different hair styles, from the Afro, through the dyed blonde, to the dreadlocks, sometimes supported with a headband, more often than not.

It was only when he cut his hair really short in a Jordanian jersey that people noticed he looked like Kobe Bryant.

Add the number 24 on the back. Add the floppy, one-size-too-big jersey. Add the motions on the floor.

Cue the highlights:

Social media then did its part.

All of a sudden, millions and millions of people started talking about it, realizing that what they probably thought was a joke actually made sense. He really does move like a lefty Kobe.

Add to it the fact that the Philippines are the home of the LA Lakers most passionate fan group, as evident whenever Austin Reaves touches a ball, and just like that, there were 7,331 people in the stands of the Mall of Asia Arena on a Monday afternoon to watch New Zealand v Jordan.

Scratch that.

There were 7,331 people in the stands of the Mall of Asia Arena on a Monday afternoon to watch Rondae Hollis Jefferson do another Kobe Bryant impression.

With Jordan trailing by four points and 10 seconds left to play, the 28-year-old knocked down a three-pointer in transition, while being fouled, to tie the game and send it to overtime.

"Man, I just wanted to win. Everything said shoot it, and that's what I did."

Unfortunately for him and Jordan, it was not enough.

A 39-point performance was one of the best individual games in the history of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but New Zealand prevailed in overtime, winning the game 95-87.

That didn't stop the "Kobe! Kobe!" chants from the Filipino crowd. Although Hollis Jefferon enjoys that comparison, he remains down to earth when asked for a comment on it.

"It means a lot, it's an honor," RHJ said. "There definitely was only one Kobe, but to feel that love and that energy coming down the stretch, hitting those big shots - God was with me, and Kobe was with me, for sure."

He treated all of the world to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Think about it, who had 7,000 fans in an arena in Philippines seeing Kobe Bryant in Rondae Hollis Jefferson on their Bingo card?

Exactly. Once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if you share the court with him.

"He's an amazing player. Since he joined us, he's slowly just been getting better and better with us. He never really forced himself on us in the beginning, which is great, and to see him shine here at the biggest stage is just kind of what you expect from a guy of an NBA caliber. I'm very lucky to share the court with him," point guard Freddy Ibrahim said.


"I wanted to be on this stage. I've played on a lot of stages, but this is one of the biggest. The team is great, everybody is wonderful, I can't complain," Hollis Jefferson spoke about fitting in and playing for Jordan.

Jordan are realistically out of the hunt for a place in the Second Round, but they still have a big game coming up. The Chester, Pennsylvania native will face the United States on Wednesday.

"It will be a little bit weird. Growing up and spending my whole life there, it will definitely be weird. Then also to know the guys that I'm playing against... It will be fun. It will be fun. I look forward to it," he finished.