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Jordan Bell has new-found love, respect for basketball after heartfelt conversation with Kevin Durant

Jordan Bell, Kevin Durant

Golden State Warriors rookie forward Jordan Bell’s approach to basketball changed simply after one heartfelt conversation.

Following a 20-point loss to the Indiana Pacers late in the season, a performance coach Steve Kerr had named “pathetic” and “embarrassing” to describe his players’ effort — Bell sat next to Kevin Durant on the plane trip back home, holding a conversation he would never forget.

“On the plane back, KD came over and sat next to me,” Bell recalled, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole. “And we were talking about hoops and how much he loves it. It was a deep conversation. It made me look at him totally differently. It was like, ‘Damn, this dude really loves basketball.’ Everybody around here says they love playing basketball, but he was saying he wants to die playing basketball. I never felt that way; I want to die in my sleep, something peaceful. He loves it on a totally different level.

“Ever since that conversation, it’s been different. I really love basketball, too. So why wouldn’t I go hard and respect the game like he respects the game?”

Coming into tonight’s series start against the Houston Rockets, the rookie might see some more action, given the small-ball nature of both teams and their fast-paced offensive theories.

In recent weeks Bell has re-dedicated himself to the game and to his teammates, slowly carving his way back and now reaching a point where Kerr gave hints he could play meaningful minutes against the Rockets.

His energy, speed, and defensive presence will be needed to handle a much-improved load in Clint Capela, who is bound to present a difference challenge than other scoring big men the Warriors have faced over the last couple of series.