With the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Golden State Warriors on the night they honored Kobe Bryant by retiring his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys, it gave several Warriors players an opportunity to take in the special ceremony. In particular Kevin Durant, who has been open about the impact Bryant has had on his career.
The two had multiple battles throughout the years, even facing off in the playoffs twice, with each picking up one series victory over the other. The last of which was by Durant when the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Lakers in 2012.
With Durant in the building for this monumental occasion, he took some time with Melissa Rohlin of the San Jose Mercury News, to talk about what he does and doesn’t miss about playing against Bryant:
“I don’t miss him as a competitor playing against him, obviously,” Durant said. “He was such an all-world competitor, all-world just basketball player. Everything you want in a basketball player, you had in Kobe.”
“I do miss that intensity that he brought to the court. He raised everybody’s — opponents, coaching staff — just everybody’s level of play,” Durant said. “That’s what great players do. You can learn a lot from watching somebody like that.”
Aside from his outstanding number of clutch shots and moments, the one thing that will always be part of Bryant’s legacy is his intensity and desire to win every time he stepped out on the court. Kobe was willing to do whatever it took to get a victory, and as Durant noted, it forced everyone else to step up.
That is what seperated Kobe from the average player. It wasn’t the physical tools, but the mental toughness that made him one of the best to ever play.
It’s always tough to beat someone as determined as Kobe, which understandably is why Durant doesn’t miss playing against him. But Durant can also appreciate the level of competition Kobe brought out of everyone, which will be one of the most lasting pieces of his legacy.
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