Kobe Bryant is not one for charity on the basketball floor. After announcing his intention to retire back in November, the five-time NBA champion didn’t want other star players around the NBA taking it easy on him when the Los Angeles Lakers would come to town.
In Bryant’s final game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, one-time NBA MVP Kevin Durant knew the best way to show respect to the Lakers legend was to go right at him.
Durant did just that on Monday night and said the following about his mindset heading into his final matchup with Kobe, via Yahoo Sports:
“I remember when Michael Jordan was on his way out and Kobe didn’t take it easy on him,” Durant said.
“That’s all I was thinking. I was trying to destroy him every chance I got. Every time I got the ball, he was ‘Come on. Let’s see what you got.’ That shows what type of player, what type of competitor he is. I just wanted to play against him one last time.”
Bryant was never crazy about the idea of having a farewell tour with the Lakers. Kobe has always used people’s hatred for him and the adversity of an opposing crowd as motivation on the basketball floor.
Unfortunately, after news of his retirement plans surfaced, the landscape changed for Kobe. Bryant has received nothing but praise, gifts, and recognition for his accomplishments during this last season.
The superstar didn’t know how to handle this kind of overwhelming positivity on a nightly basis at first but has come to embrace it during the final stretch of the season.
The future Hall of Famer’s career will come to an end on Wednesday night with the Lakers playing their season finale against the visiting Utah Jazz at the Staples Center. It’ll be another emotional night for Bryant, but thankfully, the Jazz have something to play for and may challenge the 37-year-old one last time on his home floor.