MADISON, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 11: RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks poses for a portrait during the 2019 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot on August 11, 2019 at the Ferguson Recreation Center in Madison, New Jersey.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

In a show of respect to Kobe Bryant, New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett wants to retire the “Maple Mamba” nickname.

While RJ Barrett played at Duke University, he was given the nickname “Maple Mamba” as a play on Barrett being a Canadian shooting guard in the mold of a Kobe Bryant. Following the tragic death of Bryant, the New York Knicks rookie is asking that we retire the nickname out of respect to the fallen legend.

“I don’t want to get called that anymore,” Barrett said per Steve Popper of Newsday. “Somebody great like that, to lose him in that way is really sad. Even to this day you just think about it and it keeps replaying in my mind. It’s tough.”

This is a nice showing of respect from the rookie. Players league-wide are finding their own ways to honor the fallen legend. Teams around the NBA have been taking 24-second and eight-second violations as a way of showing respect. Kobe wore Nos. 8 and 24 during his career.

Barrett, 19, is currently dealing with his first injury as an NBA player. He suffered a right ankle sprain against the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 16 and has missed the team’s next six games. The Knicks plan to re-evaluate the rookie’s progress on Friday.

At the earliest, Barrett could return for New York’s game against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, but that is purely speculative at this point. Although the 19-year-old is itching to get back on the floor, the Knicks will be extremely careful with their prized rookie.

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