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Kevin Durant: ‘Hard to comprehend’ Kobe Bryant’s passing

The NBA world continues to mourn the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is the latest league luminary to weigh in on the Lakers icon’s stunning death at the age of 41.

Bryant tragically perished in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, Calif., along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people. The emotional honors, tributes and remembrances have continued unabated in the wake of Sunday’s heartbreaking events, and Durant admits he’s still reeling as he tries to wrap his head around the fact that Bryant is gone.

“It is hard to comprehend all of this,” Durant told reporters Tuesday, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN. “Just having those moments with Kobe, it was always about pressing forward and at this time it is so hard to do so. It is hard to keep going right now. … I know we are all just mourning.”

Durant, like every NBA player of his generation, grew up idolizing Kobe, and it was clear he had the utmost the respect for the icon during their shared time in the league. The Nets star noted Tuesday how Bryant’s drive is what inspired him most.

“One thing I learned from being around Kobe was being yourself — being comfortable with how I played,” Durant added. “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.'”

Bryant unsurprisingly landed on Durant’s top-five NBA players of all time list, though it stands to reason it would be the same for most players of Durant’s generation.

When asked Tuesday how NBA players could best pay tribute to Bryant, Durant said by going out and playing hard.

“Nothing will ever be big enough to truly honor Kobe Bryant,” Durant said of the NBA’s ongoing efforts to properly honor the legend’s contributions to the game.