When Kevin Durant left OKC and teamed up with Steph Curry in Golden State, Kobe Bryant wasn’t particularly pleased with his decision.
Kobe Bryant is regarded as one of the greatest players ever and his legacy as a LA Laker stands out among his peers. His status at Los Angeles is massive, and Lakers fans often express gratitude for their star staying with them throughout his career.
In the modern era, however, the practice of superstars showing loyalty is diminishing every day. Legends like Michael Jordan, Kobe, and Tim Duncan are a rare breed, and most superstars today value a championship over anything else.
While players like Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter set the precedent, it was LeBron James‘ decision that changed the game. The 4-time MVP chose his individual success over loyalty back in 2010. Not surprisingly, he was admonished for years until he came back to Cleveland.
The “player empowerment” era reached its peak in 2016, however. Kevin Durant joined the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, and the group went on to dominate the league for 4 seasons. Durant’s move also left co-star Russell Westbrook with a depleted roster for multiple seasons.
Kobe Bryant does not agree with these approaches.
Kobe Bryant felt it was important for superstars to be able to withstand the bad times along with celebrating the good ones.
During an interview, Kobe was asked about Durant’s free agency decision, and he had a stern response.
“As a leader, you can’t just. Because the ship is sinking, all of a sudden, ‘I’mma jump off and swim to another ship’. You don’t do that. You can win championships in front of everybody, then you could miss the playoffs in front of everybody. You gotta be able to take both sides of it.”
He also made it clear that he respected his friends’ decisions, despite the fact that he would not have taken their approach.
“Durant’s been a friend of mine for a very very long time. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time, so is LeBron and all those guys. Would I make the same decision? No. But that’s their decision, that’s their choice.”
Kobe Bryant’s identity as a Laker is what propelled him to great heights. While he was drafted into a good situation alongside Shaquille O’Neal, he stuck it out with his team after Shaq left. The result? Back-to-back championships with the Lakers again. It’s not hard to see that there is some truth in his words.