During his time establishing himself in the league with the Oklahoma City Thunder, current Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant often spoke about the influence of and inspiration he drew from Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Durant recently named Bryant as the toughest player he’s ever defend and credited the five-time champion for shedding insight on how to have a career and success that extends beyond the basketball court.
On Wednesday, Durant became the fifth player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points prior to turning 30 years old. He joined Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Lakers head coach Luke Walton gained an insight to Bryant during their days as teammates, and Durant when he was an assistant coach for the Warriors.
“Both can score all over the floor,” answered Walton when asked how Bryant and Durant are similar as scorers. “How easy they can make scoring look. The shots they hit, when you’re watching it you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, that looked pretty easy.’
“But if you really break down what they’re doing, how defenses are completely schemed to stopping them, it’s incredible how far they’ve come in mastering that part of the game. To be able to drive and dunk on people or stop on a dime.”
Walton didn’t need to look far for a prime example of his praise. Durant reached 20,000 points on a jump shot in semi-transition, which came on a crossover dribble. “I mean, he’s 6’10, and it was a hesitation crossover pull-up from 19 (feet). And by the time he shot it, it looked like a routine shootaround shot,” Walton marveled.
“It’s just incredible how good these superstars have gotten. Both Kobe and KD score all over the floor. Double teams, it doesn’t matter. They can get to what they want.”
Bryant finished his career with 33,643 points, good for third-most all-time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) sits atop the all-time scoring list, followed by Karl Malone (36,928). Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) round out the top five.
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (30,796) ranks sixth and James (29,874) is seventh. No other active player is higher than Carmelo Anthony, who currently ranks 21st all-time with 24,877 points.
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