In the NBA, there are many rivalries between players. In the history, we know some epic duels, for example the games between the Lakers of Magic Johnson and the Celtics of Larry Bird. Even if these confrontations were mostly friendly off the court, the older generations were the precursors. They created this culture of brotherhood, despite their competitive spirit.
Kevin Durant is also a great competitor, this, everyone can easily recognize. Well we learned recently in one of the episodes of his podcast, ECT’s, that he felt like he had a beef with Kobe coming into the league.
« I felt like I had a beef with Kobe Bryant, but he didn’t even know it. » Said Durant. « As you get older, you look at those guys as just sharpening you and making you better. When Bron scores 50 points or James Harden scores 60, I ask myself, how can I do better to be better. How can I maintain the level that I had as well. It’s a healthy competition. »
So it was with the Black Mamba in his sights that Durant came into the league ready to take on everyone and with no goal of creating friendships. Today, it’s something that is totally different about him as he was able to explain. He has been influenced a lot by the older generations who appreciated each other deeply.
« The Magic, the Birds, the Jordan’s, they created that brotherhood within the league. »
But when he was younger, as mentioned above, KD was not in that mindset, and it was with that mentality that he prepared to face Kobe Bryant in his last game against the Thunder in 2016. At that time, the Lakers were often subscribed to the bottom of the standings and considering the Thunder team at that time, it was only anecdotal. However, Durant spent the game defending Kobe, and trying to manhandle him. The result? 34 points at 11/18 shooting and a big win. In a post-game interview, he explained the reason for his motivation that day.
« I remember when Michael Jordan was about to hang up and Kobe did not spare him. » Said Durant. « That’s all I could think about. I was trying to destroy him every chance I got. Every time I got the ball, he’d say, ‘Come on. Let’s see what you got. » That shows what kind of player, what kind of competitor he is. I just wanted to play him one last time. »
Magic Johnson was one of the greatest players in NBA history. He clearly paved the way for many legendary players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and others. For many, Magic and Larry Bird were the stars that could transcend the NBA, as Charles Barkley recently confided, and Kevin Durant will be the first to tell you. In fact, it was in his ECT’s podcast that he addressed this topic.
« They don’t realize that in terms of individual branding in the NBA, and it was a new league at the time, Magic was the first guy to be a national brand, and then MJ came after. That started the trend, and basketball became a global sport because of guys like Magic, who was a pioneer. He meant a lot to the game, so I’m looking forward to seeing that documentary… Especially after the last dance, I know there are going to be a lot of documentaries competing with him. »
Indeed, there are plans for a documentary on the Lakers legend, of course to discuss his epic at the Purple & Gold, several times All-Star, three times MVP and five times NBA champion. But off the court, he was above all one of the most recognizable figures in the NBA, setting the standard for players. His reputation became so great that he was no longer just a « basketball player », but much more. One could completely call it an « influential personality » here. Magic, along with others like Larry Bird are pioneers. They are also responsible for the growing popularity of the NBA. Before Michael Jordan came into the league, Magic was one of the best talents on the floor. It was in the late 1980’s that Magic, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, propelled the NBA onto the world stage.