Since he first broke into the League as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Kevin Durant has had his fair share of battles against some of the greatest players of his generation. Hall of Famers in the present and future like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, and Paul Pierce.
When he thinks about who he sought out for advice on how to reach their level of superstardom and legendary status, KD pointed out the game Kobe put him on to as an up-and-coming centerpiece on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Really, just don’t be a crybaby,” Durant said Wednesday, per ESPN. “I was at that age at 23 where I thought the world revolved around me. And I know we’ve talked a lot about Kobe; he was real humble in how he approached the game, how he approached his teammates, just life in general. So I learned just from watching his movements.
“He was an example; he didn’t say much, but he was an example just by how he moved, and I try to emulate; like I said, him and Mike are two dudes I emulate on and off the court what they do, and I know it will make me better.”
The subject and memories of the Black Mamba came up because Hornets head coach Steve Clifford compared th two former Finals MVPs to each other. He specifically called out how the two legendary hoopers are “very similar in terms of the way work,” how they’re “both students of the game,” and he’s noticed that Durant and Bryant are both passionate and “care deeply about the results more than they like individual numbers.”
When Durant heard about Cliffords’ analysis, he was appreciative.
“It’s hard to fill them shoes and be a Kobe Bryant,” Durant said. “But Kob is somebody I’ve been around and still study to this day. And basically, I just try to copy everything he does, same with Michael Jordan. Those two guys just set the tone for everything you want to be as a basketball player. So I just simply try to copy them as much as I can.”
Another Kobe disciple and a close friend and teammate of Durant also notice the similarities. Irving noticed the sacrifices Durant and Bryant made in the pursuit of greatness. Irving also reflected that for Bryant and Durant and players chasing greatness, there are similarities like “the hours that are put in,” as well as “the way that they prepare” and, of course, “how serious they take what they do.”
“And they’re very competitive, Kobe and KD. Obviously, with Kob transitioning in the last few years, he would definitely be giving us some gems to continue on, and you can tell that K got a lot of advice from him and watched him a lot.”