The late Kobe Bryant was known for many of his skills on the court. His willingness to take charge, the ability to take the craziest shots, and his fearlessness and bravery no matter who he would face during a game.
However, his drive to compete was probably the most revered of all his qualities. Players, past and present, can tell stories of how fierce a competitor Bryant was. And more importantly, how he brought the competitor out in them.
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Kevin Durant Sounds off on Kobe Bryant
On a recent episode of his podcast, The ETCs, Kevin Durant talks about Kobe and how his tenacity and will to win gave him a sort of love-hate feeling towards the 5-time champion.
“I felt like I had a beef with Kobe Bryant, but he didn’t even know I had this beef,” Durant said via Yahoo Sports.
“As you get older you look at these guys as just sharpening you and making you better.”
Durant, who is a two-time champion in his own right goes on to talk about how some of the greats today have helped shaped him as a player as well. Seeing stars have great performances, lights a fire in his belly to step up his game.
“When Bron goes to score 50 points or James Harden has 60 points, I’m looking at … how can I top it just to be better … how can I maintain that level I was on too — it’s a healthy competition.”
The Respect Between KD and Kobe Was Mutual
The respect was mutual between Durant and Kobe, as the 18-time All-Star referred to Durant as the toughest athlete he ever guarded in an interview with Alex Rodriguez and Dan Katz on The Corp podcast.
“Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant. That was the one I retired without being able to figure out how I can stop him,” the Laker legend said via BroBible.
“When he first came into the league, he was easy to defend because he couldn’t go right and shoot. He used to kind of shoot across his face, so that was a weakness that he had. Also, in the post, he couldn’t turn left shoulder, everything was right shoulder, so that gave me areas that I could shut off.”
Coming out of Texas, Durant was a prolific scorer, but his abilities were limited. Durant being the gym rat that he is worked tirelessly on his game and has turned himself into arguably the purest scorer in NBA history.
“Then he started developing it. And now he can pull up left, he can pull up right, he can shoot the long ball, he has runners, left hand, right hand Before he had a left-hand finish at the rim, I could always send him left, force him all the way to the basket. Even with the advantage of his size, he was still uncomfortable finishing with his left. So, I could clamp the right hand and force him in a tough situation,” Bryant continued.
“But now he developed that. So, then I couldn’t really figure out, is this a rhythm thing? I’m trying to count the seconds that he takes to make his move. When does he make them, at what times in the game? I couldn’t really figure out that rhythm. So, I retired not being able to figure him out.”
Durant has continued to improve upon his game every year he has been in the league and it has equaled much success. The two-time Finals MVP is looking to capture his third title this season.