Kobe Bryant is as fierce a competitor as we’ve seen in professional sports. Nothing seemed to get the in the way of Bryant’s pursuit of winning five NBA titles as he led the way for the Los Angeles Lakers for the past 20 years. Bryant’s competitive spirit was legendary and regularly compared to Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and other NBA greats.
Following 20 years of service in a Lakers uniform, Kobe Bryant heads into retirement while the rest of the NBA deals with a blockbuster free-agent signing that sent shockwaves throughout the league. Superstar Kevin Durant decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder after spending nine years with the team to join a squad already stacked with All-Star-caliber talent.
Durant chose a path that many believed was possible but highly unlikely. After taking a few days to gather his thoughts and meet with a handful of interested teams in NBA free agency, Durant chose to take his talents to the Golden State Warriors. As a result of Durant’s decision, the Warriors are the team to beat once again. The combination of Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson is arguably the most talented roster in the history of the league.
The veteran forward joining forces with Curry and company has been highly criticized by fans, former and current players as well as the media. Bryant, however, feels the criticism is unwarranted as teams and players around the league should simply use it as added motivation as he told Jim Rome of CBS Sports.
“As a competitor, I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and thought that was unfair. If you are a real competitor, you look at that and say ok lace them up, let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there, we are still going to take you down.”
The consensus seems to be that Durant is taking the easy route to win an NBA championship. Joining the Warriors has been viewed as a cop-out by some and the others, like Bryant, have reacted much differently. Even three-time NBA champion LeBron James believes Durant leaving Oklahoma City for the Bay Area is good for the league. James recently sat down for an interview with Alyson Shontell of Business Insider and talked about hearing about Durant’s decision.
“I think everyone had the ‘wow’ thing. My [reaction] was no different from the average person who doesn’t know basketball to the person who watches it or covers it every day. So, I think it’s all great for our league. Our league is very competitive. It’s continued to grow, and [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver has done a great job of picking up where David Stern started, so it’s pretty cool.”
LeBron James made two major decisions in his NBA career that are comparable to Durant’s controversial move to the Warriors this summer. James left his beloved Cleveland Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat back in 2010. LeBron was constantly ridiculed for his move to South Beach in the same way Durant is criticized today after leaving the Thunder. James desperately wanted to win a title and was able to accomplish that feat winning back-to-title championships in Miami before heading back to the Cavaliers in 2014 and winning a third title this past season.
Kobe Bryant, much like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, was also widely criticized for the decisions he made over the course of his two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant famously had feuds with teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard leading to ugly ends for both players stint in Los Angeles. Kobe wasn’t easy to play with, and few were able to stand the test of time sharing the spotlight with the future Hall of Famer.
Regardless of Kobe Bryant being difficult to deal with, the superstar won five titles in a Lakers uniform and is considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. Durant simply made a decision to get him close to winning a title, and it seems Kobe nor LeBron disagree with his decision.
[Photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images]