Before he took the Charlotte Hornets head teaching job this summer season, Steve Clifford spent a season as a participant growth guide for the Nets. That gave him an up-close and private have a look at Kevin Durant, who Clifford mentioned reminds him of among the best to ever do it.
”He’s lots like Kobe [Bryant] to me,” Clifford mentioned forward of tip-off towards 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 in all various NBA superstars, together with his star teammate Kyrie Irving, who held a robust relationship with the late, nice Bryant, the Lakers legend and five-time NBA champion who handed away tragically in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.
The Nets star was appreciative of Clifford’s praise.
“I mean, it’s hard to fill them shoes and to be a Kobe Bryant,” Durant mentioned. “But Kobe is any individual who’s been round and I nonetheless examine to this present day, and principally I simply tried to repeat all the things he does. Same with Michael Jordan. Those two guys simply set the tone for all the things you need to be as a basketball participant, so I merely attempt to copy them as a lot 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 be taught most from his time round Kobe?
“Really just don’t be a crybaby,” he mentioned. “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, mentioned a lot of the greats share one thing in widespread 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 mentioned. “I don’t suppose it’s simply Kobe and KD. I simply suppose if you see greatness and also you marvel how individuals proceed to do it 12 months after 12 months, it’s a must to have a look at the hours which are put in, the way in which that they put together, and the way severe they take what they do. And they’re very aggressive, Kobe and KD. Obviously, with Kobe transitioning in the previous couple of years, he would undoubtedly be giving us some gems to proceed 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 mentioned being round Durant strengthened the thought in him that one of the best gamers need 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 mentioned. “Kevin was a breath of contemporary air. He could also be one of the best participant on this planet and no one works more durable. Nobody cares extra 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.”