When you eliminate the best player in pro basketball from the playoffs, what do you get as a prize? If you’re Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, you get an autographed jersey.
Thursday night, Phoenix dropped the reigning, but injury ridden NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers from the playoffs in the first round 4-2, routing them 113-100. Booker had 47 points, a standout lead in the game while LeBron James was left to steward the game without Anthony Davis who left early with a groin injury.
After the game though, it was all good. In gesture of respect between athletes, off the court James handed Booker a gold No. 23 jersey with his signature all over it. In a message on NBA’s Instagram page, James sent Booker a simple message: “Continue to be great.”
James, still the NBA all-time playoff points leader and No. 3 regular season leader behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone, gave Booker his props and said he’s watched his impressive growth in the game.
“I love everything about D-Book,” James said, according to the Associated Press. “We’ve had numerous conversations in the past. When you want to be legendary in this game, you’ve got to continue to improve not only your game, but also as a man. All the conversations we’ve had, I can tell he’s soaked them up and is using them to his advantage.”
Booker, along with Chris Paul will be taking the team to face the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs next round. After the game he made it clear despite knocking off the Lakers’ the team has its work cut out for it.
“These guys over here are battle-tested,” said Booker in a post-game press conference, the AP reports. “We’re not going to celebrate our first series like we won a championship. We know we have a tough opponent in Denver coming up soon.”