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Kevin Durant reminds me of Kobe – Boston Herald



Before he took the Charlotte Hornets head coaching job this summer, Steve Clifford spent a season as a player development consultant for the Nets. That gave him an up-close and personal look at Kevin Durant, who Clifford said reminds him of one of the best to ever do it.

”He’s a lot like Kobe [Bryant] to me,” Clifford said ahead of tip-off against the Nets on Wednesday. “Their makeup is different in many ways, but on the court they’re very similar in terms of the way they work, and they’re both students of the game. When I think of Kobe, I think of passion, when I think of Kevin, I think of passion. So two elite players who care deeply about the results more than they do like individual numbers.”

Durant is one of a number of NBA superstars, including his star teammate Kyrie Irving, who held a strong relationship with the late, great Bryant, the Lakers legend and five-time NBA champion who passed away tragically in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.

The Nets star was appreciative of Clifford’s compliment.

“I mean, it’s hard to fill them shoes and to be a Kobe Bryant,” Durant said. “But Kobe is somebody who’s been around and I still study to this day, and basically I just tried 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 simply try to copy them as much as I can.

“And I guess that showed to Cliff. I enjoyed being around him a lot. We talked a lot about the game of basketball, so I’m sure he could hear that, hear it in my voice how much I just enjoy that dialogue about the game. So that’s pretty cool to hear, man. I love Cliff.”

What did Durant learn most from his time around Kobe?

“Really just don’t be a crybaby,” he said. “I was at that age at 23 where I felt like the world revolved around me, and he was — I know we’ve talked a lot about Kobe — but he was real humble with how he approached the game, how he approached his teammates, just life in general. So I just learned from watching his movements. 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 it only made me better.”

Irving, Bryant’s closest mentee, said most of the greats share something in common with the Lakers legend.

“I think if you look at people that want greatness — they will sacrifice their time with their families, their friends, to do everything possible in order to give everything they have to what they love, to do to their craft — they have similarities,” Irving said. “I don’t think it’s just Kobe and KD. I just think when you see greatness and you wonder how people continue to do it year after year, you have to look at the hours that are put in, the way that they prepare, and how serious they take what they do. And they’re very competitive, Kobe and KD. Obviously, with Kobe transitioning in the last few years, he would definitely be giving us some gems to continue on.

“And you can tell that [Durant] got a lot of advice from him and watched him a lot. So you could definitely see the similarities. And they’re both great, and they’re willing to do anything. They’re willing to do what it takes to win ballgames, and that’s what you want on your team every single night. You can depend on something like that.”

Clifford said being around Durant reinforced the idea in him that the best players want to be coached.

“As much as players are different now than before, being around a guy like Kevin Durant for the year just reinforced in me that the best players do want to be coached, and the best players do work hard everyday, and the best players do care about the team,” he said. “Kevin was a breath of fresh air. He may be the best player in the world and nobody works harder. Nobody cares more about his teammates.

“I think he’s a throwback,” Clifford continued on an alternate broadcast. “He has an incredible passion for the game. He works hard everyday. He cares deeply about the team and how the team plays. One of the best — I feel blessed over the years the experiences I’ve had with certain players, but even as a consultant, being [in Brooklyn] not all the time, but getting a chance to watch him work and get to know him is something that I’ll cherish forever.”

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