Once again, Thunder shooting guard Thabo Sefolsoha will start out defending the other team's best perimeter scorer. When it comes to Sefolosha's list of toughest players to defend, Bryant certainly is on it.
“Of course he is, but there are so many good players, talented players who really challenge the team and challenge me,” Sefolosha said. “He's definitely one of them, but there are a lot of good players.”
As is always the case, the Thunder will defend Bryant by committee, with four teammates rotating to help out whoever is attempting to defend the 14-time All-Star.
“It's going to be fun,” Sefolosha said. “It's just another game and that's how we approach it. It's going to be, I'm sure, an intense game and we've got to be ready.”
Bryant is a four-time MVP of the All-Star Game and twice has been MVP of the NBA Finals. However, only once has he been selected MVP for the season (2007-08).
“Sometimes MVP is more about the stories — how you come into the league, how your team is doing throughout that time,” said Durant, who was runner-up to Miami's LeBron James in last year's voting. “He (Bryant) was just so dominant year in and year out it's kind of like you know what Kobe's going to do, (so) you can't give him MVP. He could have won it seven or eight times. Just like LeBron, just like Michael Jordan, just like Larry Bird. There's a lot of guys who could have won it lots of times. He's got five (world championship rings), so the regular-season MVPs you really don't care about.”
Bryant is well-aware Durant and teammate Russell Westbrook grew up studying his game.
“You feel proud about it because you feel you leave the game in good hands,” Bryant said after Wednesday night's victory over New Orleans. “You've done more than just score points and win championships, but you helped lead the next championship.”