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The role model

Gazette staff December 19th, 2012

Kobe Bryant is not known for his graciousness. Especially not toward excellent young players who repeatedly school him on the court, sometimes in his own house.

Credit: Brad Gregg

So we couldn’t believe our ears when we heard that the L.A. Lakers superstar had praised OKC’s own Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He admires their poise, their work ethic and their ability to keep their cool.

The five-time NBA champion told the Los Angeles Times that the Thunder pair are so great at this point, they’re starting to remind him of ... himself.

“Not too many players have that.

Michael [Jordan] had it. I have it. Durant has it. Westbrook has it. They just don’t care about pressure situations or criticism or whatever. It’s rare.”

Where did the Thunder stars learn such greatness? Could it have been from the Black Mamba himself?

“For sure. They watched me growing up,” said Bryant.

It’s almost as if everyone’s greatness is ultimately a reflection of Kobe’s greatness.

Still, we’re glad times have changed since last season when, after L.A. was thoroughly trounced by OKC in a regular-season game, Kobe announced that Thunder players still couldn’t “sit at my lunch table.”

Describing OKC as “the benchmark for everybody in the West,” the Laker conceded, “I mean, these guys are the Western Conference champions and they knocked us out of the playoffs last year.”

What a beautiful sentence.

Thunder fans, it’s on you now to make a GIF with that text, preferably over footage of Kobe blowing a layup.

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