Though Kobe Bryant has been retired for two seasons now, former and current NBA players often share tales about their battles or encounters with the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
For much of the current generation in the league, Bryant is among the players they idolized. He’s made himself available to current Lakers, with Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma among those to take him up on the offer, and others outside of the organization.
The five-time champion developed a mutual respect for several of his contemporaries and understudies, including Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
The 2017 NBA Finals MVP became the latest to pay his respect to Bryant by calling him the toughest player to defend during a Q&A session with fans on his YouTube channel:
“Toughest player for me to defend one-on-one had to be Kobe. Just because the way he made tough shots, it’s easy to get discouraged when you play great defense and he still makes a tough shot. That was tough to get over as a young player. And because of his footwork, how he made the aggressive players foul him. It was difficult to stay out of foul trouble.”
Over the course of their respective careers, Bryant and Durant faced off against each other 25 times during the regular season. In those matchups, Bryant averaged 25.4 points per game and shot 44 percent from the field.
While Durant averaged 27.3 points against Bryant, the 18-time All-Star got the last laugh by guiding the Lakers to a 14-11 record against Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
In 11 playoff games, Bryant averaged 27 points against Durant while shooting 41.8 percent from the floor. The latter scored 25.8 points behind a 42.1 field goal percentage.
In their final playoff game against each other on May 21, 2012, Bryant dropped 42 points and made 18 of 33 field goal attempts. Durant led the Thunder to a 6-5 lifetime postseason record against Bryant’s Lakers.
But, the Lakers eliminated the Thunder from the first round en route to winning an NBA title, the last of Bryant’s career, in 2010.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB