Durant taking Kobe's advice to heart

After suffering the first significant injury of his career, Kevin Durant got some advice from another superstar forced to grow used to watching his team from the bench -- Kobe Bryant.

"Kobe reached out to me at one point right after I got out of surgery," Durant told ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" on Tuesday. "We played a preseason game, and I was sitting on the sideline, and I was just wanting to get into the game. I just asked him, how'd he do it? What was his thought process? He just told me, he tried to learn the game as much as he can from the sideline and be the best teammate he can be and support all the guys.

"From a guy like Kobe that stood out to me, just knowing he's at the top of his game, but always trying to get better in all aspects, I learned a lot just from that conversation. It was big for me."

Durant is set to be re-evaluated from surgery that repaired a small fracture in his right foot in about four weeks. Before this injury, Durant had missed a total of 16 games in his seven-year NBA career, all from minor things like sprained ankles.

"Even though [Bryant's] injury was worse than mine -- he was out for longer -- every time I don't play, I still feel as though something is missing from yourself," Durant said. "It was good to hear from him and put everything in perspective."

The subject of Durant's pending free agency in 2016 and the possibility he could follow a similar path as LeBron James and return to play for his hometown Washington Wizards was also broached during the interview. With the incredible influence James' decision to return to Cleveland has had on his hometown community, Durant was asked if he's considered what returning to D.C. could do for his.

"I really haven't thought about that, to be honest. I hear it a lot," Durant said. "But I think I can make an impact on the community I grew up in from anywhere. So I think I'm doing a good job of that in Oklahoma. My friends, my family, the kids in my neighborhood are seeing that. I'm inspiring them from Oklahoma City.

"I really haven't thought about it. I love where I am. I know that sounds cliche and the answer everybody gives, but that's really true from my side of it. I'm sure everybody's watching from afar."

Durant's injury has put the Oklahoma City Thunder in a precarious position, especially with teammate Russell Westbrook joining him on the injury list for at least a month with a fractured hand. Durant, however, has been a fixture on the sidelines during the Thunder's 1-3 start, sitting at the front of the bench next to the team's coaches, working referees during timeouts and joining huddles with a clipboard often in hand.

"I'm just having fun cheering for my teammates, just want to tackle that part of it, be the best teammate I can be and leader from the sideline and hopefully inspire and ignite my teammates," he said. "I'm having fun doing that. Just trying to make the best of it."

Durant's injury comes after the reigning league MVP made headlines in August when he dropped out of Team USA, citing the need for rest both mentally and physically. In a new HBO documentary that airs Tuesday, Durant admitted that Paul George's injury helped influence some of that decision.

"It took everything out of me seeing that," Durant told a friend in the documentary. "Everything I had to play for Team USA, that injury stripped it away from me."

Following George's injury, and Durant's decision to withdraw, there was considerable debate about the role of NBA players in international competitions. One of the most prominent voices has been Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who is very opposed to NBA players competing overseas.

"It's hard to keep these players now from wanting to play for their country. It's such a cool thing to do now. But I understand what Mark Cuban's trying to say," Durant said in the ESPN Radio interview. "He's trying to protect his guys. But when you play in this league, you want to be competitive as much as you can. Playing USA Basketball gives you the opportunity to do that."