Kobe Bryant died last year aged 41 in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant says the United States team will ‘honour’ the two-time Olympic gold medal winner in Tokyo; the United States face France in their opening game on July 25
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, died last year at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others, shocking the sports world and sending legions of grieving fans.
Brooklyn Nets forward Durant, who was the team’s top scorer at the Rio 2016 Games and London 2012 Games, leads a 12-member U.S. squad looking to win their 16th Olympic gold, which will begin on July 23.
“Kobe Bryant is the guy we all admired and looked at as kids. Even when he was alive and playing, his DNA was ingrained in us as players. From afar he taught us how is the game, what is the work ethic, ”Durant said.
“And we all kind of pulled away from him when he was playing and when he was alive.
“And now that he’s no longer with us, we all want to honor his teachings by going out there and playing with that passion, with that energy in every room.”
On Thursday, organizers decided the Olympics would go without spectators, as a resurgent coronavirus forced Japan to declare a state of emergency in the capital which will run throughout the Games.
“I was definitely disappointed once I heard that, but I understand… we’ve already pushed back the Games by a year, so we don’t want to cause more problems with COVID,” Durant said.
“This is going to be the part that stings a bit, but it’s always an honor and a pleasure to represent your country and to do it on a big stage.”
The US team will open the preliminary round on July 25 against France.
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