Staying where you are, and not quitting despite the hardships, is hard for anybody to do. Taking the easy way out is an all-too-familiar strategy nowadays. For Kobe Bryant, he was the last of a dying breed — in that, he stayed loyal to a franchise even when it was sometimes easier for him to just go somewhere else.
Compare that situation to the one with Finals MVP Kevin Durant, and the contrast is clear. Instead of staying with the Thunder, to lead them through the grind of a Championship, he jumped ship to the team that beat him, to the team that proved they did not need him.
Bryant talked about Durant’s decision to an audience via TheLeapTV:
“If you’re doing something that’s so easy, you might want to reconsider what you’re doing… Durant’s been a friend of mine for a long time…would I make the same decision? No. I would have stayed.”
For anyone that knows anything about Kobe, his words are not all that surprising. If anything, Durant’s move to Golden State has been considered weak and desperate by many in the community. There has not been a time in NBA History when a player as good as Durant has had a roster around him capable of winning the Chip by themselves. It was seen a defining moment for the All-NBA talent.
Kobe, meanwhile, has always been the epitome of a world-class work ethic. Whatever it takes, whatever the difficulty, Bryant was going to work to get what he wanted — and was not one who fancied quitting in favor of an easier path.
Guys like Kobe are becoming increasingly rare in the NBA, as the league’s new player empowerment movement is giving athletes an incentive to forgo loyalty to their teams.
Kevin Durant enters free agency this summer, and he will have to decide if he wants to take a more challenging path, or continue the one that he has laid out for himself so far. Nobody knows what his decision will be, though it is probably safe to assume what Kobe’s would be.