Kobe Bryant is the most polarizing player in the game.
He is unquestionably one of its all-time greats, yet the way he’s gone about his business throughout a Hall of Fame career that’s now in its 18th season has rubbed plenty of people the wrong way — and that includes those that are supposed to be objective in writing about him as a function of their profession.
Bryant was the subject of what can only be described as a hit piece earlier this season by the largest sports media outlet in the nation, in which anonymous sources called out players by name who supposedly refused to consider Los Angeles as a free agent destination while Kobe was still a member of the storied Lakers franchise.
Paul George was one of those who were mentioned, and he strongly refuted the allegation.
Now, we can add Kevin Durant to the presumably long list of guys who would welcome the opportunity to play alongside Bryant, after he similarly (and colorfully) shot down the ridiculous notion that a majority of players feel otherwise.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
While Durant wasn’t specifically addressing his own uncertain future, he insisted that the player perspective relating to Bryant shouldn’t be a hindrance as the 8-17 Lakers continue their laborious turnaround.
“Excuse my language, but that’s (expletive),” said Durant, who congratulated Bryant via text message after he surpassed Jordan on Sunday. “I want to play with a winner every single night, especially somebody who wants to win that bad, who works that hard, who demands a lot, who raises up your level. I’d want to play with a guy like that every day. … (His style) may make people uncomfortable, how he acts and just how he approaches the game, but I love that type of stuff. I think (the accusation) is BS.” …
“Just his work ethic, just his demeanor man,” Durant said when asked what he admired about Bryant. “He doesn’t mind being an (expletive), and he comes to work man. He’s intense. He demands a lot out of his teammates, and I’ve seen that just playing alongside him in the Olympics (in 2012). He demands a lot out of everybody. He makes them better. Everybody out on the court. You’ve got to respect that. As a player, I study guys like that. We might not have the same personality, but I think we approach the game the same way and I’ve learned a lot from just watching him.”
The point, here, is that it’s easy to get people to talk negatively about Bryant on the record while getting to remain anonymous.
But the directly-quoted opinions of the actual players are what we should be listening to where this nonsensical topic is concerned, and Durant, the reigning MVP and one of the game’s top two players, just added one of the strongest voices possible to the list of those giving Bryant their overwhelming support.