Kevin Durant says he built up a beef with Kobe Bryant in his head that Kobe didn’t even know about when going up against him.
During his illustrious 20-year career, Kobe Bryant established himself to be the epitome of competitiveness. His attitude towards the game and the ‘Mamba Mentality’ he preached enamored players who entered the league during his prime.
Nowadays, a ‘welcome to the NBA’ moment for rookies is carried out by guys like LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant. However, back in the 2000s, perhaps the most notorious player to completely embarrass a rookie or sophomore by dropping a light 35 on them in the most creative way, would be Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant had an immense amount of respect for Kevin Durant. He is quoted as saying his toughest opponent was Tracy McGrady as McGrady could do everything Kobe could, but was taller.
However, perhaps a bigger compliment would be when Kobe said the one player he could never figure out on how to guard/stop, was the Slim Reaper himself, Kevin Durant.
Kevin Durant recently took to his podcast to share his thoughts about matching up against the ‘Black Mamba’ in the 8 years he was in the league alongside him.
Kevin Durant illustrates his mentality when going into a game against Kobe Bryant
Regardless of what the advanced stats and numbers say, watching Kobe Bryant have possession of the ball late in close games was a sight to be feared by all members of the opposing team. Kevin Durant was not exempt from this as he has been on the record as saying, “I was scared s—tless of Kobe late in games.”
To help himself perform well in games against Kobe, Kevin Durant took a page right out of Michael Jordan’s book. In his recent episode of the ETCs podcast, he outlined his mindset going when matching up against the Lakers legend.
“I felt like I had beef with Kobe Bryant but he didn’t even know I had beef. As you get older you look at these guys as just sharpening you and making you better. When Bron goes for 50 or Harden goes for 60, I’m looking at, how can I top it just to be better. How can I maintain that level too?”
Kobe and KD share a multitude of moments together on the court. Durant’s true, ‘welcome to the NBA’ moment would have to be Kobe’s dismissal of the OKC Thunder in 6 games in the 2010 Playoffs. KD would eventually get him back in the 2012 Playoffs which would actually be Kobe’s last Playoff series of his career.