Kevin Durant Expresses Desire to Play Alongside Kobe Bryant: “I’d Love to Team Up with a Player of His Caliber”

Given the Los Angeles Lakers’ poor situation, it doesn’t take much to get its fans enthused about a better future.

Kevin Durant may have made their day.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star, who will become a free agent in the summer of 2016, praised Kobe Bryant for passing Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and denied that other players don’t want to play with him.

Durant didn’t address his own uncertain future, but he argued that Bryant’s player perspective shouldn’t hinder the 8-17 Lakers’ slow comeback.

“Excuse my language, but that’s (expletive),” Durant texted Bryant after he passed Jordan on Sunday. “I want to play with a winner every night, especially someone who wants to win bad, works hard, expects a lot, and elevates your level. I’d want to play with him every day. His manner, how he acts, and attitude to the game may make many uncomfortable, but I adore it. I think it’s BS.”

Last week, video of Bryant’s post-practice rage at teammates and general manager Mitch Kupchak went viral, reigniting the debate over his future.

To some, it reinforced his personality as a problem. Others saw it as a glimpse inside a five-time champion’s world of high expectations.

Bryant has maintained that he will retire when his contract expires in the summer of 2016. However, after recuperating from injuries that kept him out of the 2013 playoffs and limited him to six games last season, the 36-year-old may rethink if he can acquire the kind of aid that made the Lakers a winner again.

Whether it’s Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, or LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency this summer or Durant in the offseason, prospective Lakers are watching Bryant’s comeback (he’s third in the league in scoring at 25.2 points per game) and wondering if they’d fit in Laker Land.

Dwight Howard’s decision not to re-sign with the Lakers two summers ago was all about coach Mike D’Antoni (he wanted Phil Jackson) and Carmelo Anthony’s decision to return to the New York Knicks last summer was clearly money-driven (the Knicks could offer a five-year deal, while all other teams could only offer four).

Durant thinks it’s absurd.

“Just his work ethic, just his demeanour man,” Durant remarked of Bryant. “He works and doesn’t mind being a (expletive). He’s intense. Playing with him in the 2012 Olympics showed me how much he asks from his teammates. He expects much from everyone. Makes them better. Everyone on the court. That must be respected. When I play, I analyse such players. Though we have different personalities, I think we play the game similarly and have learnt a lot from him.”

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