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Kevin Durant after Kobe Bryant tragedy: ‘Hard to keep going right now’

Kevin Durant knows what happens. That does not mean Kevin Durant has accepted what happened.

Kobe Bryant is gone, and “it’s still hard to process this,” Durant told reporters in New York on Tuesday, his first time speaking publicly since Sunday’s helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.

The two overlapped for nine NBA seasons, but Bryant was an icon to Durant long before he broke into the league.

“It’s a joy I was able to be born in ’88 so I could catch Kobe in his prime,” Durant said.

The basketball world and world at large has been in mourning since the Calabasas crash that brought the earth to a crawl, including Tuesday’s Lakers-Clippers game being postponed. The tributes have come pouring in since, and Durant admitted that “it’s hard to keep going right now.”

“Having an opportunity to compete against Kobe and be around him in a human space was a joy,” he said. “Those emotions just start coming out at once. It’s hard to comprehend all of this. Just having that time and those moments with Kobe, it was always about pressing forward. At this time it’s so hard to do with the amount of impact he had on all of us. It’s hard to keep going right now. As a basketball community, as a world, as a whole, we’re all just mourning and sticking together.”

The Nets — without Durant, healing from his ACL tear — have continued to play, though several said it was hard to get through Sunday’s matchup with the Knicks. Brooklyn point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said he would be changing his jersey from No. 8 to 26 to honor Bryant.

“One thing I learned from being around Kobe was being yourself — being comfortable with how I played,” Durant said. “I never wanted to be like Kobe, but I wanted to have that laser focus. Nothing was getting in the way of what I wanted to do on the floor. That was the Mamba Mentality.”

There is a petition circulating to change the NBA logo from Jerry West to Bryant. Durant said he put some thought into it, and “nothing was big enough” to honor his legacy.

“Every basketball player go out there and play as hard as they can every single night to honor Kobe. I think that’ll do,” he said.


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