Kevin Durant: Team USA Aims to 'Honor' Kobe Bryant with Play at Tokyo Olympics

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 9, 2021

Kevin Durant shoots during practice for USA Basketball, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP Photo/John Locher

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant spoke about the influence late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has on him and the rest of the United States men's Olympic basketball team during a press conference on Friday (h/t Angelo Guinhawa of ClutchPoints).

The 3 Point Conversion @3ptCnvrsn

"Even when he was alive and playing, his DNA was embedded in us"<a href="https://twitter.com/KDTrey5?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KDTrey5</a> talks about honoring the great <a href="https://twitter.com/kobebryant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kobebryant</a> and his legacy of <a href="https://twitter.com/usabasketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@usabasketball</a> for <a href="https://twitter.com/Olympics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Olympics</a>.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USABasketball?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USABasketball</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/3ptcnvrsn?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#3ptcnvrsn</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KobeBryant?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KobeBryant</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Olympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Olympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/uK64ezGDTk">pic.twitter.com/uK64ezGDTk</a>

โ€œKobe Bryant is the guy that all of us looked up to and watched as kids. And even when he was alive and playing, his DNA was embedded in us as players. From afar, [he] taught us what the game is about, what work ethic is about.
"And we all kind of pull from him when he was playing and when he was alive. And now that heโ€™s not with us no more, we all want to honor his teachings by going out there and playing with that passion, with that energy every single play.
"And guys that had close relationships understand how he will approach every single day, especially with Team USA. He really took pride in being a part of this group and part of this team.
"We all feed off of that type of energy, and Kobe always brought that, so he's always big to everyone of us here. We miss him, we miss him dearly because he would be in here, supporting us."

Bryant's decorated career included plenty of success on the international stage, including a pair of Olympic gold medals and the 2007 FIBA World Championship gold medal with Team USA.

Durant and Bryant played together on the 2012 Olympic team, which went undefeated and won a gold medal over Spain in London. That group outscored their opponents by an average of 32.1 points per game.

KD has also built an excellent international basketball resume, winning two Olympic gold medals in addition to World Championship gold. He notably led the Olympic team in scoring in 2012 and 2016.

Durant is looking for his third Olympic gold at this year's Summer Games, and he'll be flanked by some talented players:

USA Basketball @usabasketball

New team, same expectations.<br><br>The ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USABMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USABMNT</a> Olympic numbers are in ๐Ÿ™Œ <a href="https://t.co/W3aecRZpxw">pic.twitter.com/W3aecRZpxw</a>

The Games will begin July 23 in Tokyo.


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