The Star Wars Character Inspired By An NBA Legend

There are few people who will ever play the game of basketball that will have as much of an influence as Kobe Bryant. Even those who have little to no familiarity with the sport very likely know the late athlete's name. Bryant spent the entirety of his impressive 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers and, during that time, he racked up some truly remarkable personal accomplishments, including becoming a two-time NBA scoring champion as well as helping to lead the Lakes to five NBA championships. And that is truly just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Bryant accomplished before his untimely passing in 2020.

But Bryant had also made an impact on the entertainment world as well. Not only was he behind the Oscar-winning short "Dear Basketball," but, amazingly enough, he also served as the inspiration for a "Star Wars" character. Yes, even though it may not have been obvious at first glance, one of the most impressive athletes of the past few decades managed to also touch a galaxy far, far away in addition to his accomplishments on the court.

Meet K2-B4

The character in question is named K2-B4 and is a droid that first appeared in an episode of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," specifically in the show's third season. K2-B4 was part of a story arc titled "The Citadel," with the first episode of that arc originally airing on February 18, 2011 during the show's original run on Cartoon Network, long before it ever made its way to Netflix, and years before Disney+ would give fans a final season to wrap things up in proper fashion.

The character's debut episode was written by Matt Michnovetz and directed by Kyle Dunlevy and sees a team of Jedi and clone troopers led by Obi-Wan and Anakin as they try to free the captive Jedi general Even Piell from an impenetrable prison. Naturally, Ahsoka Tano disobeys orders and tags along. Once Piell and his fleet officer, Captain Tarkin, are freed from their cells, the real trouble comes when they must try and escape the Citadel itself.

K2-B4, a purple and yellow droid that has been colored to match the Lola Sayu system (more on those colors in a moment), is assigned to a defense fleet in service of its superior, Commandant Osi Sobeck, who happens to run the prison planet where this action takes place. For a little more context, the official databank describes the planet as follows:

The volcanic planet of Lola Sayu appeared a beautiful glowing purple from orbit and was the site of an ancient Jedi prison known as the Citadel. Although the Republic had control of the planet for a time, it switched hands early on during the Clone War conflict and the Separatists used the planet as a prisoner of war camp under the control of Osi Sobeck.

What's in a name ... and jersey colors

Given that the planet of Lola Sayu is yellow and purple, it wasn't too hard to make K2-B4 fit Kobe Bryant's aesthetic. The droid, as seen in the episodes, is bathed in the same colors Bryant wore on the court for all of those years playing for the Lakers, serving as a nice little nod to his one and only team as a professional basketball player. The official "Star Wars" trivia gallery dedicated to this arc in "The Clone Wars" also states that the dorid is "a nod to crewmembers who are fans of the Los Angeles Lakers. When K2-B4's animated model was created, the Lakers won the championship."

Additionally, the gallery points out that Bryant wore the number 24 on his jersey, which accounts for the droid's name, with the K and the B standing for Kobe Bryant, and the numbers representing his jersey. As for who provides the voice of K2-B4? That is also a fun little tidbit for longtime fans of the franchise.

Ashley Eckstein, best known as the voice of Ahsoka Tano, pulled double duty throughout this arc as she also provided the voice for K2-B4. This was far from the first time that another one of the show's main cast members voiced a droid, as James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), Tom Kane (Yoda), Phil Lamar (Bail Organa), and Corey Burton (Count Duku) also voiced tactical droids at various points in the series. So, in the end, a droid inspired by an NBA legend was fittingly voiced by a "Star Wars" legend.