Before taking over as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets this summer, Steve Clifford spent a season as a player development consultant for the Nets. That gave him an up-close-and-personal look at Kevin Durant, who Clifford said reminds him of one of the best to ever do it.
“He looks a lot like Kobe [Bryant] for me,” Clifford said before the briefing against the Nets on Wednesday. “Their make-up is different in many ways, but on the pitch they are very similar in the way they work and they are 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 results more than individual numbers.”
Durant is one of the many NBA superstars, including his star teammate Kyrie Irvingwho had a strong relationship with late great bryant Lakers legend and five-time NBA champion who tragically died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.
The Nets star appreciated Clifford’s compliment.
“I mean, it’s hard to fill his shoes and be a Kobe Bryant,” Durant said. “But Kobe is someone who was around and I still study to this day and basically tried to copy everything he does. Same with Michael Jordan. Those two guys just set the tone for everything you want to be as a basketball player, so I just try to copy them as much as I can.
“And I think that’s what he showed Cliff. I really enjoyed being around him. We talked a lot about the game of basketball, so I’m sure he could hear that, hear in my voice how much I love the dialogue about the game. So that’s pretty cool to hear, man. I love Cliff.”
What did Durant learn most from his time in Kobe?
“Don’t really be a whiner,” he said. “I was at that age at 23 where I felt like the world revolved around me, and he was — I know I talked a lot about Kobe — but he was very humble with the way he approached the game, the way he approached his teammates of the team. , just life in general. So I learned just by watching his movements. He didn’t say a lot, but he was an example just by the way he moved and I try to emulate, like I said: Him and Mike are two guys that I look up to on and off the field and what they do and just made better “
IrvingBryant’s closest mentor, said most greats share something in common with the Lakers legend.
“I think if you look at the people who want greatness — they’re going to sacrifice their time with their families, their friends, to do everything they can to give everything they have to what they love, to do their craft — they have similarities,” Irving said. . “I don’t think it’s just Kobe and KD. I think when you see greatness and wonder how people keep doing it year after year, you have to look at the hours they put in, the way they prepare and how seriously they take what they do. And they’re very competitive, Kobe and KD. Obviously, with Kobe’s transition over the past few years, he would certainly give us some gems to go on.
“And you can say that [Durant] I got a lot of advice from him and watched him a lot. So you could definitely see the similarities. And they are both great and willing to do anything. They are willing to do whatever it takes to win games and that’s what you want in your team every night. You can depend on something like that.”
said Clifford being around Durant it reinforced in him the idea that the best players want to be coached.
“As much as the players are different now than before, being around a guy like Kevin Durant this year reinforced in me that the best players want to be coached and the best players work hard every day , and the best players care. about the team,” he said. “Kevin was a breath of fresh air. He may be the best player in the world and nobody works harder. No one cares more about their colleagues.
“I think it’s a step backwards,” Clifford continued on an alternative show. “He has an incredible passion for the game. He works hard every day. He cares deeply about the team and how the team plays. One of the best — I feel blessed over the years with the experiences I’ve had with certain players, but even as a consultant, being [in Brooklyn] not all the time, but having the chance to see him work and get to know him is something I will cherish forever.”