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Kevin Durant: Feud with Russell Westbrook ‘all manufactured’

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Kevin Durant has said his “feud” with Russell Westbrook is a media creation.

But what about everything that followed – the former Thunder teammates trash talking on the court, them walking by each other without acknowledging each other during All-Star weekend?

Durant on The Bill Simmons Podcast:

We spent some time together, and I understand who I left to go to and what happened and all this stuff. And then on top of that, to me, I don’t really think he got a problem. I don’t really think it’s – but if you ask a man every single day about me, I would be pissed, too.

You ask him about me every day, I would get pissed off too. So, I think that’s what added to this feud or this beef that we have, which is all manufactured.

It was awkward. Everybody see it. Everybody talked about it. The whole time, that was the topic of discussion. It was, “Who’s getting traded, and are they talking to each other?” It was corny. It’s tabloid, TMZ talk. It’s not even basketball. It’s not even what’s important in this game.

It was awkward for me because I’m like – first of all, I got pride. We both got pride. So, if I walk up to somebody and they just ignore me, I would get really upset. I would get really mad. I don’t really get mad at a lot. But that pisses me off. So I didn’t want to make it an awkward situation for him. I didn’t want to make it an awkward situation for me. It was weird.

I never even told nobody this. I wanted to ask Russell, like, “How’s your family doing, man? How do you feel?” Stuff that normal people talk about, but there’s so many cameras watching and it’s, “Oh, what’d they talk about? They didn’t look at each other. They didn’t even say hi.” It was just making me so mad.

Everybody wants to know, every news outlet wanted to know. And it was, like, you want to know about two grown men’s conversation and their relationship.

Do I think Westbrook loathes Durant with a fiery passion? No.

But does Westbrook use the feud as fuel for himself and his Thunder teammates? Yes. Does he market the feud? Yes. Does he indulge the feud, maybe for those reasons? Yes.

Whether that makes the feud real or manufactured is up for interpretation.

However, I think there are legitimate elements to it. Westbrook reportedly made himself vulnerable to Durant after last season, and Durant responded by signing with the Warriors. Durant tried to reach out, and Westbrook deleted his text.

This needn’t be the most personal and deeply felt feud. As Durant said, both players are too prideful to take the next step – especially when, for Westbrook, he has cleverly crafted his image around being Durant’s arch-nemesis.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.