Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant has vented his anger at the media for their treatment of retiring Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who he feels has been unfairly criticised this season.
The 2015-16 NBA campaign will be Bryant’s 20th and final season after the 37-year-old announced his retirement on Sunday.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Bryant’s unfortunate decline has been evident as the Lakers continue to struggle.
Bryant is shooting 30.5 per cent from the field after managing just four-of-20 for 13 points in Sunday’s 107-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Durant, though, has leapt to the defence of the five-time NBA champion and 17-time All-Star, telling reporters on Monday: “I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys [the media] treated him like s***.
“He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting, and it’s time for him to hang it up.
“You guys treated one of our legends like s***, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year.”
Durant, who compared Bryant to Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan, added via ESPN.com: “I understand [the media] have to write about the game. Of course I understand that. Kobe hasn’t played well and his team hasn’t played well, but did we expect that from them? You did say he was the 93rd-best player in the league, you did have the Lakers as the worst team in the West, but it seems like everybody is happy that he’s going out like this.
“Every game he’s played on TV is about how terrible he looks, every article the next day is about how he should retire and give it up. Just killing him.
“I never hear about the Finals MVPs, the accolades. They did it for Derek Jeter, they will do it for Tim Duncan when he leaves even if he’s playing bad. I know you gotta report the games, but you’re going too in-depth about how bad he is. You’re almost kicking him out the league.”