Thursday night, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder go into Oracle Arena and take on Kevin Durant‘s Warriors. It’s the first time Durant and Westbrook will have been opponents in a basketball game, and it promises to be dramatic — Westbrook is on a tear averaging a triple-double this season, while the Warriors have played well enough to win but have struggled defensively (26th in the NBA) and haven’t looked like a team with much grit.
But much of the drama about Westbrook and Durant has been off the court — reports of their relationship being a reason KD chose to go to the Bay Area, that Durant only texted Westbrook when he made his decision.
Durant did a couple very honest and revealing Q&As released Tuesday, where Durant opened up about his relationship with Westbrook. He told Sam Amick of the USA Today Thursday night will be emotional.
“Hell yeah it will be. Yeah, it’s going to be emotional, seeing people on the sideline that I haven’t seen in a while. Yeah, it’s definitely going to be emotional, but I’ve got a job to do. I’ve got to go out there and be me in between the lines. I’d be a fraud if I go out there and say, ‘No, it’s not going to mean nothing. It’s just another game.’ It’s not. It’s not another game.”
With Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News, Durant opened up about his relationship with Westbrook.
“I love Russ. I don’t care what nobody say. I don’t care what he say or what the fans say. Like, this is a tough time right now in our relationship. But I love Russ. I love his family. They all know that. I never did anything morally wrong. I never back-stabbed him in real life, never did anything behind his back, never told anyone anything about his character.”
On informing Westbrook that he was going to Golden State via text:
That’s something me and him will talk about. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not saying I did it the right way. I’m owning up to that. We’re not going to go through this in the media though. I’m not going to say I should’ve did this, should’ve did that. We’ll figure our differences out as men 1-on-1…. We’re going through a tough time right now in our relationship. But we’re brothers at the end of the day. When I say that, where I come from, I mean it. You know what I’m saying?
Durant said the reports of he and Westbrook not getting along, not being brothers, was from people who benefited from the drama.
All that stuff I hear is lies. All that stuff that I’m taking shots at the Thunder or Russell. It’s just there to try to separate us. They did it when we were playing together. They tried to separate us. So obviously they’re going to do it even more now. C’mon. I don’t have nothing against Russell. As I shouldn’t. And I don’t think he have nothing against me. I don’t think he’s taking shots at me. I don’t think he’s doing anything that everyone is putting out there. It’s for your entertainment, your pleasure, your joy. I see it all the time. They want us to beef because of the game on Thursday.
Westbrook has acted more like the jilted one in this relationship, and you can’t blame him for that. But I don’t doubt Durant still sees Westbrook as his brother, and for him this was not a personal slight — however Westbrook saw it.
We are on the outside, we don’t know how they feel. We can infer and speculate, but anyone who says they know for sure is selling something.
I expect Tuesday night the two will give each other a brief hug before and after the game, as KD will do with a number of former teammates. I also expect between the lines the Warriors are going to have a hard time slowing Westbrook down.