Kevin Durant had his 2020-21 season come to an end sooner than he would have liked, but he’s got a second chance at a title this year when Team USA heads to Tokyo.
Durant headlines a star-studded group of American players that will be vying for gold at the Summer Olympics. The Nets star insists that he and the rest of Team USA have some extra motivation at this year’s Olympics because of the passing of an NBA legend.
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Durant Plans to Honor Kobe at Olympics
Durant, like the rest of the basketball world, was devastated by the untimely death of Kobe Bryant on January 20, 2020.
“It is hard to comprehend all of this,” Durant said a few days later, via ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “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.”
On Friday, nearly 18 months after the helicopter crash that killed Bryant at 41 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, Durant said he plans to honor the late Lakers icon in Tokyo.
“Kobe Bryant is a guy that all of us looked up to and watched as kids. Even when he was alive and playing, his DNA was embedded in us as players,” Durant said, via SNY. “From afar, [he] taught us what the game is about, what work ethic is about.
“Now that he’s not with us no more, we all want to honor his teachings by going out there and playing with that passion, with that energy every single play. And guys that had close relationships, will understand how he would approach every single day, especially with Team USA. He really took pride in being a part of this group and a part of this team. We all feed off of that type of energy and Kobe always brought that. So he’s always big to every one of us here. We miss him. We miss him dearly, because he would be here supporting.”
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Durant Leading Team USA
Durant, meanwhile, is, in a sense, honoring Kobe. It’s clear that he is through the way he’s currently leading Team USA.
“His leadership is terrific. He’s 39-0 in USA basketball and that’s crazy,” Wizards star Bradley Beal said Wednesday during the second day of Team USA camp, per NetsDaily. “We definitely want to keep that going. It speaks volumes for him to be 10+ years in the league and still wanting to come back and be a part of this prestigious fraternity. We definitely look up to him to push us and lead us, but at the same time, he’s very unselfish. He’s very encouraging. He wants everyone to do well.”
Team USA coach Gregg Popovich echoed that sentiment.
“He wants to be part of this all the time, as we all know. And that’s his motivation at the core. That’s what he loves to do. And luckily for all of us, that’s who he is,” Popovich said, via NetsDaily. “So it’s a testament to his character and just desire to be part of a team and have a challenge and seek the success.”
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