The impact made by Kobe Bryant will be felt throughout the NBA — and the world — for years to come.
In the time since his tragic death, players have been sharing stories and moments about Bryant and how he affected them. Of course, he is synonymous with the Los Angeles Lakers, but his time as a member of the USA Men’s Basketball Team is sometimes forgotten — but not to Durant.
The 2012 Olympics was the first time Durant got to team with Bryant and he recently reflected on that time on ‘Take It There’ with Taylor Rooks:
“Just the first few practices of Team USA in 2012. Just his approach to practice and then also how he played the games and his focus on what he wanted to do out there on the court. He was a defender for us and a shotmaker. So to see Kobe play a role outside of just being the main scorer, it showed me that anybody can lock into a role and perfect it.”
On the 2008 Olympic team, Bryant was the captain and best player who everyone deferred to. However, in 2012, he was beginning the backend of his career and LeBron James had emerged as the leader of the team. Knowing he was no longer the best player, Bryant figured out that his best way to make an impact was to become the defensive stopper.
Durant also admitted that he didn’t completely appreciate what Bryant did until he became older:
“As a hooper, I wanted his aesthetic as a player. It was pretty sweet to see his methods. I didn’t really get to appreciate it until I got older as a player and start to see, ‘Oh that’s what he meant’ when he was doing it this way. I’m always going to live with Kobe in my heart.”
The effect Bryant’s death had on the basketball world just showed how much he meant to so many players across the league. He inspired all of the players of today with his work ethic, relentlessness, passion, and skill.
Durant said that Bryant will always be in his heart and that is the case for all of the players throughout the NBA.