Since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven other people, there have been countless stories, tributes, and outpourings of respect coming from all walks of life.
However, the basketball world is where people are finding it particularly difficult to adjust to life without Bryant. And one of the people with the most to say was Kevin Durant.
Durant and Bryant hadn’t shared much court time together with their major overlap being the 2012 Summer Olympics. Despite that, Durant had no qualms about who he felt rivaled only Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time. Now, with Bryant gone and Durant’s teammate Kyrie Irving reeling from the tragedy, he felt it was time to speak publicly on the subject.
Durant spoke about Bryant’s mindset of always moving forward and how it feels impossible to do so at a time like this, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN:
“It is hard to comprehend all of this. Just having those moments with Kobe, it was always about pressing forward and at this time it is so hard to so. It is hard to keep going right now… I know we are all just mourning.”
Durant continued by saying what ‘Mamba Mentality’ meant to him individually and the lessons he learned from Bryant when the two were still both in the NBA:
“One thing I learned from being around Kobe was being yourself — Being comfortable with how I played. I never wanted to be like Kobe, but I wanted to have that laser focus. Nothing was getting in the way of what I wanted to do on the floor. That was the mamba mentality.”
Finally, Durant finished with what his idea of a Bryant tribute would look like and had perhaps one of the most accurate and heartbreaking answers possible:
When asked what he thought was an appropriate tribute for the league to honor Kobe, Durant said going out and playing hard. He continued: “Nothing will ever be big enough to truly honor Kobe Bryant.”
Honoring Bryant is likely one of the hardest things in the world to do at this moment as what he did for the basketball world and the world in general is truly unmatched.
Bryant will continue to be a constant point of discussion for a long time in the NBA and perhaps pushing through and being great in spite of the heartache is the only way to truly honor him and the Mamba Mentality.