“When Kev made that request, I feel like we got better,” Irving told Shams Charania of The Athletic. “Afterwards. Not initially, but now where we are now, I feel like we can honestly say we got better, with the principles that are needed for success. Without going through some test in the summertime or during the season, we wouldn’t be able to be as close and bonded as we are now.”
Irving and Durant are back with the Nets, and finally will be joined by guard/forward Ben Simmons. On paper, many consider them to be the Eastern Conference favorites. But so far, for the Nets, what’s on paper and what has actually taken place on the court have been two different things.
“I will never disrespect the name of the great Kobe. I don’t like mentioning him,” Antetokounmpo said, via Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I feel like he should be mentioned, should never be forgotten. But I don’t like mentioning his name to bring attention to the conversation that we are about to have. I wasn’t close to him. I wasn’t this with him or that with him. But I would say this, in some areas of his mindset, I think we’re very similar.”
Antetokounmp added that he was able to take learn some things from Bryant at the 2018 All-Star Game.
“I might not be as talented as him, but when we’re talking about a guy that worked extremely hard from his first day until he retired. A guy that plays to win, a guy that pushes himself to the limit, a guy that has a killer mentality when he steps on the court,” Antetokounmpo said, via Nehm. “It’s almost like having — I think he had two personalities.
“Like when we were on the sideline and we were talking and I was taking notes, laughing smiling, joking around, talking. But when we stepped on the court, It was like motherf—er didn’t even know me. ‘I thought you were like my friend.’ Again. Again. Again. Again. ‘My bad, Kobe. How many more times are we gonna do it?’ Twenty-five. ‘OK, 25.’ No, 25 makes. Twenty-five makes on the same move?’ And it’s not like you’re just shooting. You’re going hard. I was like, damn, this guy is different.”
Shooting guard James Harden wasn’t in any mood to pat himself on the back for his 35-point performance in the season-opener, given that the 76ers lost to the Celtics.
“We got a long journey, long way to go, but it’s not about me individually,” he said, via Justin Grasso of SI Fan Nation. “I know what I’m capable of, but it’s about doing the right things and trying to do whatever it takes to help this team win.
“For us, man, we felt like we had really good stretches where we were playing very, very well, and then there are times where we allowed them too easy points. Especially on the road, it’s gonna be difficult to recover. So learning lessons and watching the film, get better, and be ready to go on Thursday.”