Kevin Durant considers Kobe Bryant's 20-year Lakers career 'epic'

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant described Kobe Bryant's 20-year career as "epic" before the Thunder took on the Lakers on Saturday.

"That's a dream," Durant said of Bryant playing 20 seasons. "That's the type of career you want to have when you come into this league. For a guy to finish the way he wants to finish, more than half his life as an NBA player, that's an accomplishment in itself. If he would've never won championships or MVPs, he still played 20 years in this league. It's amazing. Not too many people can say that."

Bryant, who was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets 13th overall in 1996, was traded to Los Angeles and has played every game of his NBA career in a Lakers uniform. Asked whether it's a rarity for players today to play an entire career with one franchise, Durant, an unrestricted free agent this summer, agreed.

"Yeah, you could say that," Durant said. "There's still some guys that stay with one team, but there are some guys that move. But Kobe, he's done it, Tim Duncan's done it. Just as far as staying with one organization, when you win a title with them it makes it easier to ride it out, and that's what those two guys have done. Dirk [Nowitzki], guys like that. It's good to see a few players that's on the way out that had long careers that's been with one team and still doing it pretty well."

Last spring, Durant said in an interview he respected players, like Bryant, who remained with one team.

"I'm one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career," he said. "Kobe, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki type. That's awesome. But you never know what the future holds sometimes and how teams may feel about you after a while, but I love it here and I would love to get my jersey retired here."

Durant and Bryant had dinner together in Oklahoma City on Friday, though the Thunder star wasn't in a sharing mood when it came to what was discussed.

"It was good," Durant said. Asked if Bryant shared any perspective on his final season, Durant said, "We had a good meal, man, at a nice restaurant."

Bryant described the dinner as "great."

"We talked about a lot of things, honestly," Bryant said. "We talked about basketball. We talked about life. We talked about a bunch of stuff."

Added Lakers coach Byron Scott on the dinner: "I don't think anything about it besides the fact that two great players and good friends had dinner last night."

In the days following Bryant's retirement announcement, Durant defended the five-time champion, saying the media was "treating [Bryant] like s---" for his poor play.

Durant has battled Bryant in two playoff series and has been a teammate of his in the 2012 Olympics. Durant said he's appreciated Bryant's mentorship, which included advice as Durant went through three different surgeries last season and has tried to soak up as much as he can from the Lakers legend.

"I like him a lot because he loves the game. He respects the game, the past, the present, the future, he respects it all," Durant said. "Whatever he does outside of the game, that's something he lives with. I try not to judge anyone on what they've done. Seems like everyone else judged him. So every little thing gets blown out of proportion because he rubbed people the wrong way. But that's one thing I love about him, too. He doesn't give a s---. He works his tail off every single day and became who he is. I can learn from that and I can respect that. I've always liked that about him. That's the approach I try to take.

"Just epic. Epic. A champion, did so much for the game of basketball and city of LA," Durant continued about Bryant. "He's an iconic figure, man, and somebody I really enjoy watching."

Bryant did not play Saturday night due to a sore right shoulder.

ESPN staff writer Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.